Recently, the United Kingdom appointed a Minister of Loneliness to attend to the growing public health crisis of loneliness reported by 9 million people in their country


“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

-Luke 15:20

Recently, the United Kingdom appointed a Minister of Loneliness to attend to the growing public health crisis of loneliness reported by 9 million people in their country. Our culture has mastered the art of relational distance. Too many of us are content to view one another from a long way off. Our past hurts, pains, disappointments and biases keep us so isolated and alone. But like this father who saw his son and became proximal to him, we are being nudged to close the chasm of difference and remember our shared humanity.

Pastor Michael McBride (known as “Pastor Mike”) is a native of San Francisco and has been active in ministry for over 20 years. Pastor McBride’s commitment to holistic ministry can be seen through his leadership roles in both the church and community organizations. A graduate of Duke University’s Divinity School, with a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Ethics and Public Policy, Pastor McBride founded The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley, where he presently serves as the Lead Pastor.

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Stephen King on Trump’s Fanatics:“Jesus, man ….You act like the Red Chinese army was invading.”– “They’re just a bunch of scared and hungry people…”


From commons.wikimedia.org: Stephen King {MID-320340}
Stephen King
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Bestselling author Stephen King on Monday weighed in on President Trump’s recent warnings to the migrant caravan moving through Mexico toward the United States. King’s criticism came in response to a tweet Trump shared on Sunday stating that “full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther (sic) Border.” “Jesus, man,” King said in response to the tweet. “You act like the Red Chinese army was invading.” “They’re just a bunch of scared and hungry people,” the author said.

Read the rest of the story HERE:

At thehill.com
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A Dad’s Work to Stop Superbugs


The Pew Charitable Trusts
Antibiotic Resistance Project
Inside NIH’s Fight Against Superbugs
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, addresses some of the greatest superbug threats—and what the agency is doing about them.
EXPERT Q&A
In Superbug Fight, ‘Victory Is Not at Hand’
“It’s a long road from exciting things happening in the lab to getting through a clinical process to the patient’s bedside,” Kathy Talkington, director of Pew’s antibiotic resistance project, explains in a Chicago Tribune editorial.
READ ON
A Dad’s Work to Stop Superbugs
For Men’s Health Month—June—get to know Chris Linaman. After his heartbreaking superbug experience, he’s working to help others avoid the trauma he endured.
WATCH
IN THE MEDIA
Antibiotics Weren’t Used to Cure These Patients. Fecal Bacteria Were.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Superbugs Could Render Even the Most Routine Procedures Deadly, Warns Chief Medical Officer
THE TELEGRAPH
Stanley Falkow, Microbiologist Who Studied Bacteria and the Diseases They Cause, Dies At 84
THE WASHINGTON POST
Antibiotic-Resistant UTIs Are on the Rise Around The World
COSMOPOLITAN
Antibiotics May Raise the Risk for Kidney Stones
THE NEW YORK TIMES
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Antibiotics are fundamental to modern medicine, essential for treating everything from routine skin infections to strep throat, and for protecting vulnerable patients receiving chemotherapy or being treated in intensive care units.

Pew’s antibiotic resistance project is working to ensure both the prudent use of existing drugs and a robust pipeline of new drugs in order to meet current and future patient needs.

SaveAntibiotics.org

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Even if John Stewart is Gone, We all Need to Keep taking on FOX and all the Media


I am going to put a lot of John Stewart videos in the comment section, like this one:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO_om3iK9kE

You probably heard the great news – after a few years of progressive activism, FOX finally cancelled Glenn Beck’s show–but the Boycott Must Go On!!

Ten years ago, Media Matters launched with a revolutionary mission: to systematically monitor the U.S. media for conservative misinformation every day, in real time. We’ve been calling out right-wing lies for a decade — and we’re not done yet. Will you contribute now to help us raise $10,000 for our 10th anniversary?

Media Matters Timeline

For ten years, we’ve successfully fought back against the bad actors that poison our media with right-wing lies and smears. It’s been an amazing beginning, and we couldn’t have done it without your support.

We’re in this for the long haul. Make an anniversary gift today to kickstart the next ten years of media accountability.

Dear Kevin,
You probably heard the great news – after two years of progressive activism, FOX finally cancelled Glenn Beck’s show.
Beck was targeted after he slandered President Obama by saying, “This president has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture, I don’t know what it is… This guy, I believe, is a racist.”
Activists at ColorOfChange, Media Matters, StopBeck, FoxNewsBoycott, and of course Democrats.com responded with a boycott of advertisers on Glenn Beck’s show. Ultimately over 300 advertisers pulled their ads from Beck, costing FOX over $40 million.
Advertiser boycotts work! And it’s time to boycott all FOX News advertisers:
http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv
We’re starting our boycott of all FOX News with Proactiv, which sells acne medicine to teenagers and young adults. Why?
First, there are lots of other acne treatments. Second, young adults above all are hurt by FOX News, which promotes right-wing policies on race, education, healthcare, the environment, and war. Let’s get our future leaders to lead the fight against FOX News!
Sign the petition to Proactiv and enter the email address of every young adult over 18 you know:
http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv
Beyond President Obama, FOX regularly slanders nearly everyone: Democrats, unionized workers, the unemployed (including veterans and 99ers), environmentalists, feminists, blacks, Hiics, Jews, Muslims, progressives, scientists, and any other group it disagrees with.
FOX News broadcasts rightwing extremist slander, incitement to violence, political propaganda, and outright lies to promote its rightwing political agenda. This is not “news,” but rather a never-ending “war on news” – and it’s all documented in our petition.
Why would any decent company want to fund it? Tell Proactiv to stop advertising on FOX News:
http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv
Thanks for all you do!
Bob Fertik

GLEN BECK ADMITTED in 2007, “I Am RACIST and Barack Obama is very White” THIS MAKES Boycotting FOX NEWS needed NOW

By Kevin Stoda

Dear, American supporters of the Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) news networks.

AMERICANS are getting less tolerant of your racism and stronghold on our major media.

For example, we have noted that in his 2007 TV program from FOX (See on You-Tube), Glen Beck admitted he himself was racist. Further, Beck then, in contrast to 2009, called Barrack Obama much more white than black. (Apparently, Beck now he has other nonsense to mush men’s minds.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0tgvWxC_6A

Using a major news platform to promote racism and to tell people to disrespect a whole presidential administration through mixed truths, outright lies, and xenophobia, is not to be tolerated any more.

On Democracy Now today, Amy Goodman asked Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP what he thought of Wal-Mart’s pull-out from advertising on the Glen Beck program on FOX.

NOTE: Goodman had simply asked , “The whole attack by Glenn Beck that drove this (resignation)? In your response from the NAACP to Van Jones, it says, ´The only thing more outrageous than Mr. Beck’s attack on Van Jones is the fact that there are sponsors that continue to pay him to provide this type of offensive commentary.` Do you support the continued boycott of companies like Wal-Mart of Beck’s show on Fox?”

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/8/white_house_environmental_adviser_van_jones

This is a particularly important point because Glen Beck´s HATE CAMPAIGN ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION led recently to a great American policy maker, Van Jones, quitting the government this week.

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/09/06/van-jones-resigns/

Mr. Jealous said, “We certainly support them (Walmart) choosing with their dollars who they’re going to support. I mean, it’s—Glenn Beck is somebody who’s told a seven-year-old girl, a seven-year-old black girl, that he would buy her a ticket back to Africa, that she needed to go back to Africa. And then he comes out, and he says that healthcare is the beginning of reparations. I mean, this guy plays the race card on a weekly basis. He does it very aggressive—you know, in a very hateful way.”

Recall, first, that Van Jones is one of the most important and thoughtful men in America—however, the FOX (Fascist Oddball Xenophobic) news network chose to support a man, like Glen Beck, rather than seeing that tens of millions of Americans need to get health care from promoters like Jones and that our America economy needs to move starting today to the kind of economy that its competitors worldwide are already doing.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/95963/what_will_the_green_economy_look_like/

Let’s quote the wisdom and influential words of Van Jones on the absolute necessity to green the American economy NOW!

“I think it’s really important to point out that we’re sort of at the end of an era of American capitalism, where we thought we could run the economy based on consumption rather than production, credit rather than creativity, borrowing rather than building, and also, most importantly, environmental destruction rather than environmental restoration.”

Jones continued, “We’re trying to make the case in this book that that era is over. We now have to move in a very different direction. And key to that will be basing the US economy not on credit cards, but based on clean energy and the clean energy revolution that would put literally millions of people to work, putting up solar panels all across the United States, weatherizing buildings so they don’t leak so much energy and put up so much carbon, building wind farms and wave farms, manufacturing wind turbines. We argue you could put Detroit back to work not making SUVs to destroy the world, but making wind turbines, 8,000 finely machine parts in each one, twenty tons of steel in each wind tower, making wind turbines to help save the world.”

Finally, Van Jones wisely noted, “So we think that you can fight pollution and poverty at the same time. We think that you can actually power our way through this recession by putting people to work, but we’re going to have to start building things here and re-powering, retrofitting, retooling America, and that that’s the way forward both for the economy, for the earth and for everyday people.”

Note: These statements came from a program on DN from October of last year:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/28/van_jones_on_the_green_collar

Van Beck has written a book of the same title, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems.

http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061650758/The_Green_Collar_Economy/index.aspx

America needs such voices as Van Jones in government leadership in America—not Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) types.

Clean up the American airwaves of all its fascism and racism, today.

http://www.pittsburghurbanmedia.com/a-petition-against-fox-conservative-host-glenn-beck.aspx

NOTE: One way to change the noise of Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) media moguls is to support alternative media organizations

http://aan.org/alternative/Aan/index

and alternative monitoring websites.

http://americas.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/64380

Another way, is to demand that local radio and TV channels put better programming on, such as Democracy Now or news sources promoted by serious progressive journalists:

http://www.tacomapjh.org/progressive_news.htm

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A Latinx Heritage Month Reading List


Healing Through Stories:
A Latinx Heritage Month Reading List
PEN America is proud to collaborate on a reading list in honor of Latinx Heritage Month with Tia Chucha Press and Bookstore. While this reading list centers the work of writers who are of Chicanx and Indigenous heritage, it also includes, in the spirit of solidarity, works by writers from other marginalized communities that present the possibility of healing, renewal, and resistance.Read more ››
Submit to the 2021 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers
Deadline: November 15, 2020

The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers recognizes twelve emerging writers each year for their debut short story published in a literary magazine, journal, or cultural website, and aims to support the launch of their careers as fiction writers. This year’s judges are Beth PiatoteKali Fajardo-Anstine, and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. Stories must be submitted by editors. Submit by November 15 here »
Upcoming Events
PEN Presents: A Reading in Solidarity with the Belarusian People
TONIGHT: Friday 10/16 | 6pm ETOver the last two months, the people of Belarus have taken to the streets to call for free and fair elections, with their peaceful efforts met with unspeakable police brutality, violence, and a slew of illegal detainments. In solidarity with PEN Belarus and all Belarusian people, PEN America is organizing a reading of contemporary Belarusian literature by our Members and friends, including Masha GessenAyad Akhtar, Jennifer Egan, and Valzhyna Mort. Register here »
Bilingual Media Literacy Workshop
Monday 10/19 | 6:30pm ETJoin PEN America, All Voting is Local Florida, and Respeta Mi Gente for a live and interactive media literacy training, offered in both Spanish and English to discuss best practices and defense strategies to combat election disinformation this fall. Register here ››
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books: Ayad Akhtar in Conversation with Reza Aslan
Monday 10/19 | 6pm PTPulitzer Prize-winning playwright, novelist, and PEN America president elect Ayad Akhtar will discuss his latest novel, Homeland Elegies, with acclaimed writer and religion scholar Reza Aslan, as part of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Akhtar’s deeply personal work blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in a post-9/11 world. Register here ››
Dear 2020: A Virtual Spoken Word and Poetry Performance
Friday 10/30 | 7pm ETWe need to talk about 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, pervasive racial injustice, and the upcoming election have given us platforms to reflect and build powerful conversations as a society. In partnership with The Ink Project, PEN America Piedmont Region is hosting “Dear 2020,” a virtual spoken word and poetry performance. Learn more here ››
The PEN Pod
› On Loose Ends and Plot Twists with Lisa Jewell: “It’s very much the character comes first, the feeling of the book comes first, the idea of the book comes first, and then the bigger themes that encompass society and where we find ourselves now come much further down the line.”

› On Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary with Fredrik Backman: “I had this idea that I was going to try to write something about the things that everyday people go around carrying—that feeling that everybody else has their life figured out, except for me.” 

› On Knowing We’re Not Alone with Bill Konigsberg: “I think the misfits have stories to tell. People who feel that way have more of a need to read in some ways, so I think it’s a perfect marriage.”

› On Campus Free Speech and Devalued Black Lives with Eddie Cole: “You saw numerous academic leaders release statements about the value of Black lives on their campuses. . . but then this global pandemic that we are in has a well-documented, disproportionate impact on Black communities.”
Catch up with The PEN Ten
› The PEN Ten with Jubi Arriola-Headley: “Vote, yes. Donate, yes. Write poems, yes. But also: disrupt. But also: unmake. But also: transform. Poetry can do that, in many ways.”

› The PEN Ten with Yamile Saied Méndez: “It’s important to allow ourselves to be surprised and enchanted by the world and people around us, to be inspired by the injustices and the sorrow we experience and witness, and leave a record of the beauty and the dark aspects of our world in our stories.”
From Our Partners
Apply for One Story’s 2021 Adina Talve-Goodman Fellowship
Applications open till October 30
Together with the Talve-Goodman Family, One Story is happy to open submissions for the Adina Talve-Goodman Fellowship. This educational fellowship offers a year-long mentorship on the craft of fiction writing with One Story magazine. Our hope is to give a writer outside of the fold a significant boost in their career. Apply now ››
From Narrative Magazine
Applications open till October 30
The Narrative Prize is awarded annually for the best work by an emerging writer published in the previous year in Narrative. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Gbenga Adesina!
In awarding this year’s prize to Gbenga Adesina, editor Carol Edgarian noted, “Gbenga Adesina’s work honors and humanizes the personal and historical grief of immigrant families, the generational scars of racism, the joys and complexities of familial love, and the abiding belief that poetry can carry us across the water. The magic of Adesina’s poetry is that he twines painful truths with abundant gifts of clarity, empathy, and, yes, love.” Read more here ››
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Montana Medical Professionals Cry Out: “COVID IS OVERWHELMING OUR STATE, WHILE ELECTED OFFICIALS IGNORE PUBLIC HEALTH MANDATES”


COVID IS OVERWHELMING OUR STATE, WHILE ELECTED OFFICIALS IGNORE PUBLIC HEALTH MANDATES
Frontline health worker wearing PPE delivered by We Are Montana.I am writing today with dire news from the ground here in Montana. Yesterday, we hit a new daily record for new COVID cases, ICU beds are at 86% capacity, case positivity is almost 18%, and we have the third-highest rate of new cases in the United States. I am meeting every single day with Montanans who have lost or are at risk of losing loved ones. Families are saying goodbye via phone as their loved ones die without any family by their sides. Hospitals are hitting and exceeding capacity, and our health workers are risking their lives to keep us safe (as of Oct. 1, 1700 U.S. health workers had died of COVID).Fear has become reality, and it is devastating.In this moment, we need strong, clear guidance and role modeling from our leaders. Yet we have elected leaders ignoring public health guidance and violating the existing mask and gathering mandates. Two weeks ago, Congressman Greg Gianforte flaunted our own state mandates and attended a large unmasked concert. The event has now been identified as a potential superspreader event. In response, I, together with 110 nurses, doctors, caregivers and public health professionals from across Montana called on our Congressman to do the right thing – listen to the science and keep our communities and health workers safe. I and my team will continue to work around the clock to deliver COVID safety trainings and life-saving PPE to families in need. We will not rest, but we cannot do this alone. Help support our efforts in the fight against COVID-19And if you can’t give, please join us in reaching out to your elected leaders and urging them to keep us COVID safe. Our lives are on the line. Sincerely Yours,CoraWe Are Montana public health consultation with Blackfeet Tribal leaders.
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Why was Teacher killed in Paris suburb after showing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed to class?


Teacher beheaded in Paris suburb after showing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed to class

David Chazan Fri, October 16, 2020, 11:42 AM CDT

A history teacher who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class was beheaded near his school in a Paris suburb on Friday by a suspected Islamist terrorist who shouted “Allahu Akbar”, police said.

Alerted by local residents, police confronted and shot dead a man armed with a kitchen knife and an air gun who refused to drop his weapons and surrender, and threatened them.

Minutes later, officers found the body of the male teacher.

A bomb disposal unit was called in to check whether the presumed assailant was wearing a suicide vest or belt.

Witnesses told police they heard the assailant shouting “Allahu Akbar” [‘God is the greatest’ in Arabic], police sources said.

The teacher had received death threats after giving a class on freedom of expression, during which he showed pupils the controversial cartoons, a police source said. The presumed killer was reported to be an 18-year-old Chechen, the sources said.

Police at the scene  - AP
Police at the scene – AP

The gruesome killing in broad daylight, in the street outside the school where the teacher worked in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north-west of Paris, was witnessed by passers-by who raised the alarm. French media named the teacher as Samuel P.

Sophie Vénétitay, deputy head of the SNES-FSU teachers’ union, said: “He was murdered because he was doing his job, namely teaching critical thought.” She said the victim was a history and geography teacher who was in charge of “moral and civic education”.

“In that capacity, he gave a lesson on the freedom of expression with the Mohammed cartoons,” she said.

Thibault Humbert, mayor of the nearby suburb of Éragny-sur-Oise, said: “This was an exceptionally violent and horrifying attack. The police must be commended for intervening with such speed.”

Police arrived at the murder scene within minutes, but came across the suspect,who was fleeing towards Eragny-sur Oise, about two miles away, before they discovered the body.

“The body of the decapitated man was found around 5.30 pm,” a source close to the investigation said. “The presumed attacker was waving his gun and shouting threats at officers before he was shot dead.”

Police sealed off the area and urged residents to stay at home while they investigated whether other potential attackers or accomplices may still be at large.

The investigation is being directed by specialised anti-terrorism prosecutors.

“There are still questions about whether the killer was radicalised or whether there might have been another motive, but the investigation will clarify this and the working hypothesis is terrorism,” the source said.

French President Emmanuel Macron arriving at the scene of the stabbing attack - Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron arriving at the scene of the stabbing attack – Reuters

An investigation has been launched into “murder in relation to a terrorist group” and “membership of a criminal terrorist group”.

The presumed killer, a Moscow-born ethnic Chechen, was not on France’s terror watch list but was known to police for petty crime.

Charlie Hebdo expressed “horror and revulsion that a teacher doing his job was murdered by a religious fanatic”.

A family filed a legal complaint against the teacher last week after he showed the cartoons in class.

President Emmanuel Macron and several government ministers visited the scene after a crisis meeting at the interior ministry.

Speaking from the scene on Friday night, President Macron said: “One of our fellow citizens was murdered because he taught, he taught his pupils freedom of expression, to believe or not to believe. Our compatriot was the victim of a blatant Islamist terrorist attack.”

He expressed his condolences to the family, friends and the secondary school where the victim taught.

Mr Macron added: “It was no coincidence that the terrorist killed a teacher because he wanted to kill the Republic and its values. The Enlightenment, (is) the possibility to make our children, wherever they come from, whatever they believe in, whether they believe or not, whatever their religion, to turn them into free citizens.

“This battle is ours and it is existential,” he said. “They will not pass,” said Mr Macron. “Obscurantism and the violence that goes with it will not win. They will not divide us. That’s what they seek and we must stand together.”

Speaking at the scene, President Macron urged his compatriots to defend the values of the Enlightenment - GETTY IMAGES
Speaking at the scene, President Macron urged his compatriots to defend the values of the Enlightenment – GETTY IMAGES

In emotional scenes, MPs in France’s National Assembly all stood up to “salute the memory” of the slain teacher and denounced what they called “an abominable attack”.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, France’s education minister, said: “It is the French Republic that is under attack.”

Other politicians from across the board expressed horror at the killing.

Xavier Bertrand, centre-Right president of the Hauts-de-France region, said: “Islamist barbarity has taken aim at one of the symbols of the Republic: school. The terrorists want to shut us up, to bring us to our knees. They should know that we will not bend, they will never forbid us to read, write, draw, think, teach.”

Marine Le Pen of the far-Right National Rally, said: “A teacher beheaded for showing Charlie Hebdo caricatures. We are in France with this level of unbearable barbarity. Islamism is waging war on us: it is by force that we must drive them out of our country.”

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, head of the far-Left party, Unbowed France, said: “Horrible crime in Conflans! In fact, the assassin takes himself for the god that he claims he follows. He is sullying religion. And he is inflicting on us all the hell of having to live with murderers like him.”

French police are treating the attack as terror - AFP
French police are treating the attack as terror – AFP

Parents and pupils said they were deeply shocked by the murder.

“It’s the countryside here. Nothing happens,” said Nordine Chaouadi, whose 13-year old son “took lessons with this teacher.”

“He’s scared, he’s in a bad way,” he said.

Speaking of the teacher, he said: “At no time did he seek to lack respect, that’s what my son told me.”

He said that last week, the teacher had invited Muslim pupils to leave the classroom to not be shocked by a caricature of a nude Mohammed. The incident sparked controversy among some parents,” said Mr Chaouadi, a Muslim himself.

“I feel terrible, he said. It’s crazy, incredible. All the prophets, even Jesus, have been insulted for 2,000 years. It’s not new. I’m lost and can’t believe it’s happened.”

The killing came at a highly sensitive time in France after two people were seriously injured in a knife attack last month outside the former offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

A Pakistani man who entered France under a false identity confessed to stabbing two journalists who work for a video production company in the same building as Charlie Hebdo’s former office. He told investigators he had been angered by the newspaper’s decision to republish controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to coincide with the ongoing trial of 14 alleged accomplices of two Islamists who massacred 12 people at Charlie Hebdo’s offices five years ago. The attacker said he had not known that the weekly moved to secret new premises after the attack in January 2015.

Police at the site of the September 2020 attack near the former offices of the satirical paper, Charlie Hebdo - AP
Police at the site of the September 2020 attack near the former offices of the satirical paper, Charlie Hebdo – AP

Ten months later, France suffered its deadliest terrorist attack when 130 people were killed in coordinated attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State.

Suicide bombers armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles attacked the Bataclan music venue, near cafés and restaurants, and the national stadium.

In July 2016, 86 people were killed and more than 400 injured when a Tunisian immigrant rammed a 19-tonne lorry into crowds of families watching a Bastille Day fireworks display on the seafront in Nice.

Later that month, two Islamist terrorists murdered an 86-year-old Roman Catholic priest during a church service in Normandy. There have been further attacks since.

The 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo, the first in the series of Islamist attacks in France, was carried out by two Paris-born brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, who were shot dead by police two days later.

Charlie Hebdo now produces its magazine from a secret location and its staff are guarded by police 24 hours a day.

French leader decries terrorist beheading of teacher

French President Emmanuel Macron, second left, is seen outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A police car enters the perimeter after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was decapitated, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French rescue workers and police officers gather outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, is seen outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French police officers stand outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion "for a debate" about the caricatures about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Police officers block the access after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was decapitated in a French street on Friday and police have shot the suspected killer dead, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, is seen outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French police officers gather outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French police officers gather after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was decapitated in a French street on Friday and police have shot the suspected killer dead, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, is seen outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French police officers gather outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French police officers gather outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

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France Teacher Decapitated

French President Emmanuel Macron, second left, is seen outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)ELAINE GANLEYFri, October 16, 2020, 12:31 PM CDT

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an “Islamist terrorist attack” against a history teacher decapitated in a Paris suburb Friday, urging the nation to stand united against extremism.

The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said. The suspected attacker was shot to death by police after Friday’s beheading.

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation concerning murder with a suspected terrorist motive, the prosecutor’s office said.

Macron visited the school where the teacher worked in the town of Conflans-Saint-Honorine and met with staff after the slaying. An Associated Press reporter saw three ambulances arrive at the scene, and heavily armed police surrounding the area and police vans lining leafy nearby streets.

“One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught … the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe,” Macron said.

He said the attack shouldn’t divide France because that’s what the extremists want. “We must stand all together as citizens,” he said.

The gruesome killing of the teacher occurred in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine while the suspect was killed by police in adjoining Eragny.

A police official said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun — which fires plastic pellets — was shot dead about 600 meters (yards) from where the male teacher was killed after he failed to respond to orders to put down his arms, and acted in a threatening manner.

The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion “for a debate” about the caricatures about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press. The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding that the suspected killer did not have a child at the school. The suspect’s identity was not made public.

The suspect’s identity was not made public. French media reported that the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen, born in Moscow. That information could not be immediately confirmed.

The two officials could not be named because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing investigations.

France has offered asylum to many Chechens since the Russian military waged war against Islamist separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s, and there are Chechen communities scattered around France.

France has seen occasional violence involving its Chechen community in recent months, in the Dijon region, the Mediterranean city of Nice, and the western town of Saint-Dizier, believed linked to local criminal activity.

The attack came as Macron is pushing for a new law against what he calls domestic “separatism,” notably by Islamic radicals accused of indoctrinating vulnerable people through home schools, extremist preaching and other activities.

France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe with up to 5 million members, and Islam is the country’s No. 2 religion.

“We didn’t see this coming,” Conflans resident Remi Tell said on CNews TV station. He described the town as peaceful.

It was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial on the newsroom massacre in Jan. 2015 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the publication of caricatures of the prophet of Islam.

As the trial opened, the paper republished caricatures of the prophet to underscore the right of freedom of expression. Exactly three weeks ago, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing, outside the newspaper’s former offices, two people who suffered non life-threatening injuries. The 18-year-old told police he was upset about the publication of the caricatures.

The incident came as Macron’s government is working on a bill to address Islamist radicals who authorities claim are creating a parallel society outside the values of the French Republic.

___

Michel Euler in Conflans-Saint-Honorine and Nicolas Vaux-Montagny in Lyon contributed to this report.Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting.

Reuters

For a teacher in France, a civics class was followed by a gruesome death

Stabbing attack in the Paris suburb of Conflans St Honorine
Stabbing attack in the Paris suburb of Conflans St Honorine

Antony PaoneFri, October 16, 2020, 6:40 PM CDT

By Antony Paone

CONFLANS-SAINTE-HONORINE, France (Reuters) – The middle school teacher knifed to death on the street of a Paris suburb on Friday showed his teenage students a cartoon lampooning the Prophet Mohammad as part of a class on freedom of expression earlier this month, parents said.

Nordine Chaouadi told Reuters he was the father of a 13-year-old pupil who attended the civics class given by the teacher, whom parents gathered outside the college referred to as Mr. Paty. French media have identified him as Samuel Paty.

The teacher had asked pupils who were Muslim to raise their hands and invited them to leave, advising them he would be showing a caricature of Mohammad that might cause offence, said Chaouadi.

For Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous.

Chaouadi said his son, a Muslim, interpreted the teacher’s actions as done out of kindness and respect for their faith.

“He did it to protect the children, not to shock them,” said Chaouadi.

Some parents took offence, however. Two or three days later, they held a meeting at the school with the teacher, school principal, and an official from the education authority.

“It went well. There was no shouting or talking over each other. My wife took part in it. She said it was a man who made a mistake, it happens to everyone,” Chaouadi added.

One man who said his daughter was in the class gave a similar account of the lesson in a video recorded around the time of the meeting. However, he branded the history teacher a thug, and posted the video on social media. The post was shared by a Paris mosque, among others.

Reuters was not immediately able to authenticate the video.

In the video, the man says: “If you want to join forces and say ‘stop, don’t touch our children, then send me a message.’

“This thug should not remain in the national education system, should no longer teach our children. He should go educate himself,” he continues in the recording.

The school, the College du Bois d’Aulne in the middle-class suburb of Conflans-Saint-Honorine, could not immediately be reached for comment.

It was unclear whether the attacker, who was shot dead by police and has not been named, had seen the video.

Lawmakers and teachers’ unions hailed the slain teacher’s courage for confronting challenging taboos in French society. Freedom of expression was a core tenet of democracy, they said.

Jean-Remi Girard, president of the National Union of School Teachers, told BFM TV that children needed to understand that blasphemy can shock, but is legal.

Blood has been spilled before in France over satire targeting Islam. Islamist militants killed 12 in a gun rampage in the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 after it published a series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

Local centre-right lawmaker Antoine Savignat said, “If we cannot talk about the Charlie Hebdo caricatures in school, we end up in denialism… In France, the country of freedom of expression, this cannot be allowed to happen.”

(Writing by Richard Lough, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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Myanmar Monster Military Massacres


Myanmar: Villages burned, civilians injured and killed as Rakhine State conflict escalates

12 October 2020, 07:00 UTC

  • Civilians, including children, killed or injured
  • Remote sensing analysis confirms ethnic Rakhine villages ablaze on 3 September

Amnesty International has gathered new evidence of indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Rakhine State, amid serious escalations in the ongoing armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA). 

This evidence is based on firsthand testimony, photographs and video obtained from inside Rakhine State, and analysis of satellite imagery as well as media reports and civil society sources. Witnesses’ names have been changed. The Myanmar military’s utter disregard for civilian suffering grows more shocking and brazen by the day. The UN Security Council must urgently refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court. Ming Yu Hah, Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns

“There are no signs of the conflict between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar military abating – and civilians continue to bear the brunt,” said Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns. 

“The Myanmar military’s utter disregard for civilian suffering grows more shocking and brazen by the day. The UN Security Council must urgently refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.” 

Amnesty International is also concerned at recent reports of an increased presence of Myanmar military troops along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Images of antipersonnel landmines recently found in a civilian area were analysed by Amnesty’s weapons expert and identified as the MM2 type landmine often used by the Myanmar military. This device is larger than most anti-personnel landmines, and typically inflicts severe damage. 
 
Both the Arakan Army and Myanmar military use antipersonnel devices, and as such definitively establishing provenance is not always possible. Current restrictions on access preclude on-the-ground documentation efforts by Amnesty International. 
 
Several incidents involving civilians injured or killed by landmines have been credibly reported in Rakhine and Chin States in recent months by local civil society and media outlets. 
 
One of the most recent instances was on September 18, when a 44-year-old Chin woman stood on a landmine while collecting bamboo shoots near the Myanmar military’s Light Infantry Battalion 289 base in Paletwa. She died of her injuries a short time after. 

Amnesty International also notes with alarm recent local media reports of the Myanmar military using Rohingya children for forced portering in Buthidaung Township, in an area where clashes with the Arakan Army are ongoing. 

‘I didn’t think it could be our village’  

On the morning of 8 September 2020, Maung Soe* was at work near his village of Nyaung Kan in Myebon Township when he heard heavy weaponry, which he describes as sounding like thunder. 

“I didn’t think it could be our village. I thought it was somewhere else. I tried to call my wife and she wasn’t answering. I heard it two times — jain, jain — within one minute. 

“I went to the village and I heard some people got injured. When I got home, my wife and my daughter were laid down on the floor. [My wife] was not saying anything. I tried to check my [seven-year-old] daughter and she was still alive. I picked up my daughter and tried to get out. 

“I didn’t see [any soldiers]. The weapon came from very far. And when I tried to run by hugging my daughter’s body, there was more shooting. I tried to lay over my daughter’s body, near the stream. Within two minutes, my daughter passed away. 

“Even after my daughter passed away, I could still hear the weapons coming… I had to run away, leaving my daughter’s body. I came back later when they stopped shooting.”  I had to run away, leaving my daughter’s body. I came back later when they stopped shooting. Father of a seven year-old girl killed in a shelling attack

Maung Soe says there were no Arakan Army fighters in Nyaung Kan. Villagers believe the heavy weaponry was fired from a Myanmar military base near the border with Ann Township. 

The shelling at Nyaung Kan village in Myebon Township claimed the lives of five people, including Maung Soe’s wife and daughter. All were from the Rakhine ethnic group, and two were seven-year-old children. Ten others were wounded in the attack. 

By one local civil society group’s estimate, the number of civilians killed in this conflict since December 2018 in Rakhine and Chin States stands at 289, with 641 injured. 
 
The true figure cannot be independently verified, as a mobile internet shutdown and broader government crackdowns on media reporting have impeded documentation efforts in conflict-affected areas. However, in July 2020, Amnesty International was able to document indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling by the Myanmar military, killing or injuring civilians, including children. 

On 14 September, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council that in some recent cases in Rakhine State, civilians “appear to have been targeted or attacked indiscriminately, which may constitute further war crimes or even crimes against humanity.” 

Maung Soe is now displaced, and says he wants to see the Myanmar military withdraw from Rakhine State to prevent further harm: “As I suffer, and as I have lost my family, I don’t want any other Rakhine people to have a similar experience in the future.” 

  
‘One from the road and one from the mountain’: Burned village attacked from two directions 

Remote sensing analysis and new witness testimony gathered by Amnesty International suggest that Myanmar soldiers burned a village in central Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township in early September. 

Over 120 structures in Taung Pauk and Hpa Yar Paung appear burned in Planet imagery from 10 September 2020. Fires were remotely detected in the villages with satellite sensors on 3 September 2020.


Over 120 structures in Taung Pauk and Hpa Yar Paung appear burned in Planet imagery from 10 September 2020. Fires were remotely detected in the villages with satellite sensors on 3 September 2020.

One witness, villager U Kyaw Tin*, who lives in the area, told Amnesty International that he was walking with his cow when the Myanmar military launched an assault on Hpa Yar Paung began on 3 September.  
 
“[They] started shooting, they entered the village. I didn’t know exactly where the shooting came from … We were trying to run to the other side. We didn’t really see what exactly was going on, because we all were running.” 

He said that it appeared the village was closed in on by the Myanmar military from two directions: “Two [sets of] troops, one from each side – one from the road and one from the mountain. There was also shooting from [a remote location], but there was also something from the roadside, coming in by car.” 

A spokesperson for the Myanmar military, Major General Zaw Min Tun, told journalists a police vehicle was attacked by the Arakan Army with a remotely detonated improvised explosive device (IED) near the village. 

According to information supplied to Amnesty International, the Myanmar military were seen arresting two Rakhine men from the village that evening. Their bodies were reportedly found near the river with gunshot wounds the next morning. 

Their bodies have since been transported by the military for postmortem in Kyauktaw. The Myanmar military told the media “two enemy bodies and a gun” were seized from the site.  

“[The Myanmar military] started the arson attack around 9pm,” U Kyaw Tin told Amnesty International. “After they finished the arson attack they went to another site near the hill and they started to also attack there.” 

Satellite image analysis conducted by Amnesty International has found that over 120 structures in the ethnic Rakhine-populated villages of Taung Pauk and Hpa Yar Paung villages in Kyauktaw Township appeared burned to the ground, in imagery captured on 10 September 2020. 

Amnesty International also examined satellite sensor data from 3 September which showed thermal anomalies. Additionally, Amnesty International analysed a video of the charred village of Hpar Yar Paung, recorded on 4 September from a passing vehicle, which revealed a ground-level snapshot of the extensive destruction. All three information sources appear consistent with reports of the blaze on the night of 3 September 2020. 

U Kyaw Tin said around 80 houses were completely destroyed, and over 90 damaged. Hpar Yar Paung’s 500 residents are now displaced inside Kyauktaw Township, dependent on aid from Rakhine civil society groups in Kyauktaw town. 

New figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) indicate that 89,564 people were displaced to 180 sites in Rakhine State between January 2019 and 7 September 2020. 

These figures are based on numbers provided by the Rakhine State government and UNOCHA’s humanitarian partners. Local civil society groups indicate the true displacement figure is likely higher, as villagers have fled to areas now only nominally under government control. 
 
This adds to the existing mass displacement crisis in Rakhine, where over 130,000 Rohingya have been interned in camps since 2012
 

‘We didn’t know anything’: Internet shutdown amid the pandemic 

The mobile internet shutdown that had been in place across parts of Rakhine State and neighboring Chin State for the last year was partially lifted in August; however, the authorities have throttled network speeds to 2G in some of the areas most affected by armed conflict. 

The Myanmar government had stated the mobile internet blackout was necessary to prevent “incitement” and remote detonations of anti-personnel explosive devices by the Arakan Army.

However, the blackout has impeded the delivery of critical humanitarian aid and access to crucial information about the conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic, with the virus increasingly spreading across Myanmar since mid-August, including and particularly in Rakhine State. We don’t have any connection and we don’t know anything about what’s going on, about the conflict and the attacks in other places. 

In Maung Soe’s case, the lack of connectivity meant his village has been kept in the dark about the scale and location of fighting. 

“We don’t have any connection and we don’t know anything about what’s going on, about the conflict and the attacks in other places,” said Maung Soe. 

In addition to the internet blackout, humanitarian access remains severely curtailed by government edict across much of Rakhine State and a township in Chin State.  

Healthcare access in Rakhine State remains abysmal, and particularly so for the Rohingya population, who have long been subject to severe movement restrictions and, often, extortion by police and military. 
 
The Myanmar government should ensure full, unfettered access to humanitarian actors and allow all people in the state to access healthcare. 

Amnesty International is concerned that the sweeping powers granted under COVID-19 orders are ripe for abuse – particularly in conflict-affected areas. 
 

Impunity and secrecy mar military sexual violence scandal 

On 11 September 2020, the Myanmar military admitted that three of its soldiers had raped an ethnic Rakhine woman during operations in Rathedaung Township on 30 June despite their outright denials when the allegations were first raised in July. 

Last week, in a statement on the incident, the military publicly named the survivor but not the perpetrators. 

“Even when the Myanmar military are compelled to admit wrongdoing, their handling of this appalling sexual violence case shows a complete neglect for accountability,” said Ming Yu Hah. 

“These shocking events speak volumes about the Tatmadaw, and how deep the assumption of impunity runs within its ranks.” 

“The international community must raise the alarm about the situation in Rakhine State now, or face questions later about why they failed to act – again.” The international community must raise the alarm about the situation in Rakhine State now, or face questions later about why they failed to act – again. Ming Yu Hah

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AI on Ethiopians in Middle East


Ethiopian migrants describe “hell” of detention

2 October 2020, 11:09 UTC

An investigation by Amnesty International has exposed horrifying new details about the treatment of Ethiopian migrants detained in Saudi Arabia. Since March, Huthi authorities in Yemen have expelled thousands of Ethiopian migrant workers and their families to Saudi Arabia, where they are now being held in life-threatening conditions.

Amnesty International interviewed detainees who described a catalogue of cruelties at the hands of Saudi Arabian authorities, including being chained together in pairs, forced to use their cell floors as toilets, and confined 24 hours a day in unbearably crowded cells.Confined to filthy cells, surrounded by death and disease, the situation is so dire that at least two people have attempted to take their own lives said Marie Forestier, Researcher and Advisor on Refugee and Migrant Rights

Amnesty International documented the deaths of three adults in detention, based on consistent eyewitness testimonies. Other detainees reported at least four more deaths; while it was not possible to independently corroborate these claims, the prevalence of disease and the lack of food, water and health care indicates the true number of deaths could be much higher.

“Thousands of Ethiopian migrants, who left their homes in search of a better life, have instead faced unimaginable cruelty at every turn. Confined to filthy cells, surrounded by death and disease, the situation is so dire that at least two people have attempted to take their own lives,” said Marie Forestier, Researcher and Advisor on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International.

“Pregnant women, babies and small children are held in these same appalling conditions, and three detainees said they knew of children who had died. We are urging the Saudi authorities to immediately release all arbitrarily detained migrants, and significantly improve detention conditions before more lives are lost.”

Amnesty International is also calling on the Ethiopian government to urgently facilitate the voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Ethiopian nationals, and to press the Saudi government to improve detention conditions in the interim.

Amnesty International interviewed 12 detained Ethiopian migrants via a messaging app between 24 June 2020 and 31 July 2020. Their allegations were corroborated by videos, photos and satellite imagery analyzed by the organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab. All names have been changed.It’s hell, I’ve never seen something like this in my life Zenebe*

Forced into a nightmare

Until March 2020 thousands of Ethiopian migrants were working in northern Yemen, earning money to pay for their passage to Saudi Arabia. When the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, Huthi authorities began ordering migrant workers to go to the border, where they reportedly became caught in crossfire between Saudi and Huthi forces.

Amnesty was not able to corroborate reports of shootings, but most detainees said they had crossed the border under fire.

In Saudi Arabia migrants were apprehended by Saudi security forces, who confiscated their belongings and in some cases beat them. The majority were then transferred to Al-Dayer detention centre. From there, most were transferred to Jizan central prison and then on to prisons in Jeddah and Mecca; others have remained in Jizan central prison for over five months. According to the International Organization for Migration, approximately 2,000 Ethiopians remain stranded on the Yemeni side of the border, without food, water or health care.

Sick and injured, denied health care

All interviewees said they were appallingly treated from the moment of their apprehension by Saudi authorities. Conditions are especially dire in Al-Dayer centre and Jizan central prison, where detainees reported sharing cells with, on average, 350 people. Amnesty’s Crisis Evidence Lab has verified videos which support these claims.

Detainees reported that gunshot wounds sustained at the border were the most pressing health issue at Al-Dayer, and said Saudi authorities refused to provide adequate treatment, leading to potentially life-threatening infections.

At Al-Dayer there are no toilets for detainees, and they are forced to use a corner of the cell as a toilet space.

Zenebe, 26, said:

“It’s hell, I’ve never seen something like this in my life….There are no toilets. We urinate on the ground, not far from where we sleep. Sometimes we had to walk on it.”

All detainees said illness was rife in the facilities, reporting skin infections, diarrhoea, and yellow fever.

Hagos, who was detained in Jizan central prison for five months, said some detainees became so weak they had to be carried to the toilets, which were overflowing and barely functioning.Some women speak to themselves, some don’t dress up, some can’t control [themselves] when they urinate Abeba*

Despite the intense heat of the summer months, water is frequently insufficient, especially in Al Dayer centre where guards reportedly only turn on the taps for short periods every day.

All those interviewed described lack of sanitation as a problem. As their belongings were confiscated at the border, detainees have only the clothes they were wearing when they left Yemen, and in Al Dayer and Jizan prison there are no showers. Even in Mecca and Jeddah prisons, where there is enough water for showers, detainees are not provided with soap. These unsanitary conditions are especially alarming in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deaths in detention

Two detainees reported personally seeing the dead bodies of three people – an Ethiopian man, a Yemeni man and a Somali man – in Al-Dayer centre.

However, all those interviewed said they knew of people who had died in detention, and four people said they had seen bodies themselves.

Freweyni, 25, described the death of a 15-year-old boy at Al-Dayer:

“He was sleeping on the ground, covered with clothes. He was very weak. He urinated while sleeping. A boy was taking care of him. […] We shouted and the guards came in to take him….Four days later, I saw this boy lying on the ground outside. He was dead. I saw another body next to him. 

Two people told Amnesty International they had prevented cellmates from taking their own lives in Jizan central prison and Jeddah prison. They cited the uncertainty of the situation, as well as the heat and insufficient food, as key factors in driving detainees to despair.

Abeba, 24, described the acute mental distress of some of those she was detained with at Al Dayer:

“Some women speak to themselves, some don’t dress up, some can’t control [themselves] when they urinate.”

Amnesty International is not aware of any mental health facilities in detention centres. Many detainees are traumatized not only by their detention but by harrowing experiences on their journeys through Yemen. Abeba, who travelled from Ethiopia with her 19-year-old sister, said that many women were raped during their stay in Yemen by Yemeni policemen and smugglers.

“My sister is five-months pregnant. She was raped in Yemen. Every time I ask her by who she starts crying,” she said.The children became sick in Al-Dayer because we were sleeping in a dirty place, it was too hot and we didn’t receive enough food. They had diarrhoea and they were very thin. Children were taken to the hospital, where they died Abeba*

Pregnant women and children at serious risk

Detainees say there are a significant number of pregnant women in detention. Roza, 20, who was six months pregnant at the time of interview, said there were 30 other pregnant women in her cell in Jizan central prison. None of the pregnant women Amnesty talked to or heard about were receiving adequate health care.

Roza said that when women were eventually allowed to see a doctor in Jeddah, guards put metal chains on their legs and tied them in pairs. They were taken to an examination room but did not all receive adequate care. Roza said all the women were given the same pills, and she was denied an ultrasound – she has not had one for her entire pregnancy.

Several women have given birth during their detention; after a short stay at a medical facility they are returned to the same unsanitary conditions.  Three women reported that two babies and three toddlers had died, in Al-Dayer, Jeddah and Mecca prisons.

Abeba told Amnesty International:

“The children became sick in Al-Dayer because we were sleeping in a dirty place, it was too hot and we didn’t receive enough food. They had diarrhoea and they were very thin. Children were taken to the hospital, where they died.”

Torture and ill-treatment

Two detainees reported that guards had administered electric shocks to them and other detainees as punishment for complaining about conditions.They used this electric device… Since then, we don’t complain anymore Solomon*

Solomon, 28, told Amnesty International:

“They used this electric device… It made a small hole on my clothes. I saw a man whose nose and mouth were bleeding after that. Since then, we don’t complain anymore because we’re afraid they’ll do again the electric thing on our back.”

Eight detainees said they had experienced and seen beatings by prison guards, and shootings during escape attempts. One man said he had seen the body of a man who had been shot after trying to escape.

Amnesty International is calling on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately release all detainees, prioritising those who are most vulnerable, including children.

At the same time they must immediately and significantly improve detention conditions, end torture and other ill-treatment, and ensure detainees have access to adequate food, water, sanitation, health care, accommodation and clothes. There must also be an investigation into allegations of abuse, and those responsible must be held to account.

International cooperation needed

Almost every detainee Amnesty International interviewed had seen at least one representative of the Ethiopian embassy or consulate during their detention. They reported that Ethiopian officials had seen detention conditions first-hand, and that they were able to speak with officials.

However, at the time of writing, none of the detainees Amnesty International spoke to had been repatriated. The Ethiopian government has cited insufficient quarantine space for returnees as an obstacle to the repatriation process.Nothing, not even a pandemic, can justify the continued arbitrary detention and abuse of thousands of people Marie Forestier

Despite travel restrictions due to COVID 19, at least 34,000 Ethiopian migrants returned to their home country globally between April 2020 and September 2020, including 3,998 from Saudi Arabia. This shows that returns have not totally halted and it is still possible to repatriate Ethiopian migrants, if both governments are committed to doing so.

In light of this, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian and Saudi Arabian authorities to work together to ensure voluntary, safe and dignified repatriation is available to Ethiopian nationals. The international community also has a role to play:

“If quarantine spaces remain a significant obstacle, other governments and donors must support Ethiopia to increase the number of spaces, to ensure migrants can leave these hellish conditions as soon as possible,” said Marie Forestier.

“Nothing, not even a pandemic, can justify the continued arbitrary detention and abuse of thousands of people.”

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Political Prisoners in the USA?


IMMIGRATIONPOLITICAL PRISONERSPRISON IMPERIALISMUNCATEGORIZED

Political Prisoners in the USA

August 21, 2018

***Updated on August 5, 2020***

Read Racism, Liberation, and US Political Prisoners, an analysis of political imprisonment in the United States

This is a list of individuals who are currently incarcerated in the United States, are targets because of their actions threatening US imperial power, and who were imprisoned for their political activity. AfGJ considers them both political prisoners and “Prisoners of Empire“. We define Political Prisoners as people who are jailed based on charges related to resistance to oppression and repression. Whether the circumstances of the alleged crimes are true or false, we strenuously reject the individualized and out-of-context treatment of these cases as simply “common crimes”. Rather, they are, each and every one, related to some ongoing struggle against repression and Empire. Our listing of these prisoners does not constitute endorsement of the tactics or goals of every individual. In many cases those arrested have been clearly set up, falsely accused, railroaded, and/or denied adequate defense and basic human rights. In every instance, the cases are  political in nature, and require a political solution. We also recognize that people have a right to resist oppression, and the failure to do so is itself a crime against the people.

Please see the notes at the bottom of the page regarding Guantanamo Bay, immigrant detention, and mass incarceration. We want to acknowledge Stan Smith and the Chicago Committee to Free the Five (773-376-7521, uscubachi@yahoo.com) for initiating this project and compiling the original list in 2013. 

We need your help. This list is an ongoing draft. If you see any mistakes, persons who should be listed who are not included, have updates on the status of political prisoners or have any other questions or comments, please send them to James@AFGJ.org .

Click here to see Spanish version

•••

Leonard Peltier, a  leader and activist in the American Indian Movement, has been in prison for 43 years as of 2020. Peltier participated in the AIM encampments on the Pine RIdge Reservation. In 1975 an FBI operation led to a confrontation in which two FBI agents died.  In a COINTELPRO style operation, he was sentenced to life for murdering two FBI agents. Evidence exonerating Peltier was withheld by the FBI. In his appeal, the government admitted it had no evidence to show he killed the two FBI agents.

Mumia Abu Jamal was arrested in 1981. In COINTELPRO style, he was arrested and sentenced to death in an unfair trial for the murder of a Philadelphia policeman. Mumia was an organizer and campaigner against police abuses in the African-American community, and was the President of the Association of Black Journalists. During his imprisonment he has published several books and other commentaries, notably Live from Death Row. See documentaries “Mumia Abu Jamal: A Case For Reasonable Doubt?” and “Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary” or visit the Free Mumia or Millions for Mumia websites.

Simón Trinidad, aka Ricardo Palmera, is a long-time leader of mass movements for social change, and was a top negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). He was arrested in 2004 in Ecuador in the process of negotiating with the UN for the release of FARC prisoners. He was then extradited to the U.S. on charges of narco-trafficking and kidnapping and subjected to four separate trials due to the difficulty the prosecution had in securing a conviction. A Colombian government spokesperson told the Alliance for Global Justice in April 2015 that the repatriation of Trinidad to Colombia is key to the success of the peace talks between FARC-EP and the Colombian Government. So far, the US government has refused. 

Ivan Vargas is a citizen of Colombia and was a member of FARC. He was captured by Colombian forces and then extradited to the United States in violation of Colombia’s self-determination. He is incarcerated  here on bogus drug trafficking charges. His repatriation to Colombia is important to create the conditions for stable peace between FARC and the Colombian government.

Black Panther Party (BPP)New Afrikan, and Black Liberation Army political prisoners were victims of the COINTELPRO operations in the 1960s-70s when the FBI sought to destroy the Black liberation movement. Those currently incarcerated include, but are not limited to:

  • Russell Maroon Shoats
  • Jalil Muntaqim
  • Mutulu Shakur 
  • Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly H. Rap Brown
  • Sundiata Acoli was with Assata Shakur (who escaped and found political asylum in Cuba),
  • Veronza Bowers, imprisoned for 40 years, was convicted of murder on the word of two government informers. There were no eye-witnesses and no evidence independent of these informants. At trial, two relatives of the informants gave testimony insisting that they were lying was ignored.
  • Ed Poindexter was a target of COINTELPRO, serving life sentences on charges of killing an Omaha policeman. He was convicted on the testimony of a teenage boy who was beaten by the police and threatened with the electric chair if he did not blame the crime on Poindexter and on Mondo we Langa (who died in prison). Amnesty International defends them as prisoners of conscience.
  • Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, the longest held Black Panther Party prisoner,
  • Kamau Sadiki
  • Kojo Bomani Sababu (Grailing Brown) was active with the Black Liberation Army, and is a New Afrikan Prisoner of War. Sababu attempted to free Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera while they were both incarcerated in Kansas, and was convicted of conspiracy.
  • Ruchell “Cinque” Magee was already imprisoned when he appeared in a courtroom in 1970 to testify in a trial related to the Soledad Prison Revolt. There, he was spontaneously recruited into the Marin County Courthouse Rebellion, a bid to expose the racist court system and negotiate the liberation of the Soledad Brothers by taking hostages. 

To learn more about Black Panther Party (BPP), New Afrikan, and Black Liberation Army political prisoners, see the documentary films The FBI’s War on Black America: COINTELPRO, Cointelpro 101, or visit the Prison Activist Resource Center and the Jericho Movement.

The Water Protector Prisoners are prisoners of empire who have been incarcerated for their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipe Line and its threats to the Missouri River and the Standing Rock Sioux people. Currently there are two people still serving sentences. To find out more about the Water Protectors visit:

The Water Protector Prisoners still in prison are: 

Fred “Muhammad” Burton was jailed in 1970 during a time of massive police crackdowns on black activists in Philadelphia, and framed for the murder of a policeman.

David Gilbert is a radical left wing activist and was a member of the Weather Underground, a militant leftist group active in the 1970s. He helped found Colombia University’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Gilbert took part in a botched bank robbery in 1981 along with members of the Black Liberation Army, and was sentenced to 75 years in prison. 

Jaan Karl Laaman was a member of the United Freedom Front, an underground leftist group that bombed government and corporate buildings in the 1970s, funding their tactics through bank expropriations. They strongly opposed South African apartheid and US imperialism in Central American. Laaman writes and edits for the 4struggle magazine. Arrested with Laaman was Tom Manning who died in August, 2019.

Rev. Joy Powell was a consistent activist against police brutality, violence and oppression in her community. She was warned by the Rochester Police that she was a target because of her speaking out against corruption. Rev. Joy, a Black woman, was convicted of burglary and assault by an all-white jury; the state provided no evidence and no eyewitnesses. She was given 16 years.

Ana Belen Montes was a Pentagon intelligence analyst who alerted the Cuban government of plans the US government had of militarized aggression against Cuba. Belen Montes told the judge who heard her case, “I engaged in the activity that brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience rather than the law…We have displayed intolerance and contempt towards Cuba for most of the last four decades. I hope my case in some way will encourage our government to abandon its hostility towards Cuba and to work with Havana in a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding.” She was arrested in 2001, pled guilty to one count of espionage, and is being held in solitary confinement in a Fort Worth, Texas. http://www.prolibertad.org/ana-belen-montes

Jeremy Hammond was arrested in 2012 for the hacking of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), leaking information to Wikileaks showing that Stratfor spies on human rights activists at the behest of corporations and the U.S. government. He has been denied bail and held in solitary confinement, facing a maximum sentence of ten years.

Matthew DeHart worked as an intelligence officer for the US National Guard. He was involved with Wikileaks and the hacktivist group Anonymous. Prior to his arrest DeHart ran a server that housed documents bound for Wikileaks. When sensitive documents about the CIA were uploaded to the server by an anonymous third party, DeHart was targeted by the federal government, and was drugged and interrogated about the documents. The federal government brought charges of child pornography against him, allowing them to gain access to his computers.

Amina Ali and Hawo Hassan were convicted of “material support for terrorism” in 2011, and given 20 and 10 year sentences respectively. The two Rochester, Minnesota women had collected clothing and raised money to help destitute people in their homeland. The prosecution claims that they helped al-Shabab, an Islamist organization that fights to free Somalia from foreign domination.

Shukri Abu-Baker and Ghassan Elashi of the Holy Land Foundation, were each sentenced in 2008 to 65 years in prison. Three others of the Holy Land 5 were sentenced to 13-20 years: Mohammad El-MezainAbdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader. All were imprisoned for giving more than $12 million to charitable groups in Palestine which funded hospitals, schools and fed the poor and orphans. The U.S. government said these groups were controlled by Hamas, a group it lists as a terrorist organization. Hamas is the elected government of Gaza. Some of these charitable committees were also still receiving US funding through USAID as late as 2006. Testimony was given in the case by an Israeli government agent whose identity and evidence was kept secret from the defense. This was the first time in American legal history that testimony has been allowed from an expert witness with no identity, and therefore immune from perjury. The defendants were acquitted in their first trial when the jury remained deadlocked.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is an American-educated Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted in a U.S. court of assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan and sentenced to 86 years in prison. Four British Parliamentarians wrote to President Obama “there was an utter lack of concrete evidence tying Dr. Siddiqui to the weapon she allegedly fired at a US officer”, calling for her to be freed immediately. The weapon she allegedly fired in the small interrogation room did not have her fingerprints, nor was there evidence the gun was fired.

Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar was found guilty in 2007 of “refusal to collaborate with federal grand juries investigating the Palestinian anti-occupation movement”. Despite being aquitted of initial charges of racketeering, he was sentenced to prison for 11 years. Dr. Ashqar, formerly a professor at Howard University, has long been a victim of government surveillance, harrasment, and intimidation for his support of Hamas and the people of Palestine. 

Brandon Baxter, Joshua “Skelly” Stafford, Connor Stevens, and Doug Wright are the Cleveland 4. They were Occupy Cleveland activists arrested on April 30th, 2012 for planning to blow up a bridge. However, the FBI had infiltrated Occupy Cleveland, created the scheme, and incited the group to join in on the plans. Occupy is a decentralized political protest movement against social and economic inequality, most active from 2011 and 2012. In many US cities, including Cleveland, Occupy protesters formed long-term encampments in central plazas and squares. 

The NATO 5 were jailed in May 2012 before the NATO summit in Chicago, based on entrapment and the accusations of undercover police informants. Jared Chase still remains in prison.

Bill Dunne is an an anti-authoritarian who was arrested in 1979 for the attempted liberation of an anarchist political prisoner. Dunne is politically active in prison. He organizes solidarity 5k runs with the Anarchist Black Cross, helps educate fellow inmates, and writes and edits for the 4struggle magazine.

Marius Mason (formerly known as Marie Mason) is an environmental political prisoner serving a 22 year sentence. In March 2008, Marius was arrested for vandalism of a laboratory creating genetically modified organisms for Monsanto. He was charged with arson for this and for damaging logging equipment in 1999 and 2000. No one was harmed by these actions. Marius pled guilty to arson charges, but the judge applied a “terrorism enhancement.” He was sentenced to 22 years, and is now serving the longest sentence of any “Green Scare” prisoner.

Abdul AzeezMalik Smith, and Hanif Shabazz Bey are from the US occupied Virgin Islands, and are the three members of the Virgin Island Five who are still incarcerated. After a murder of eight American tourists to the island during a period of anti-imperial struggle against the US, the five men were targeted for being supporters of the anti-imperial struggle, falsely accused of murdering the Americans, and tortured. They were each given eight consecutive life sentences and are currently imprisoned in Arizona.

Byron Shane “Oso Blanco” Chubbuck is a member of the wolf clan Cherokee/Chocktaw. He expropriated money from over a dozen US banks to give to the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico. He became known as “Robin the Hood” because he would let the bank tellers know that he was taking the money to give to the poor. 

Alvaro Luna Hernandez (Xinachtli) is a Chicano community organizer and prison activist. He was the National Coordinator of the Ricardo Aldape Guerra Defense Committee and involved in anti-police brutality activism in Houston. He was continually targeted by the police, who in 1996 attempted to arrest him for a spurious robbery charge that was later dismissed. The police used violence to arrest him, but after a days-long manhunt, it was ultimately Luna Hernandez who was sentenced to 50 years in prison on trumped up charges of threatening a sheriff while resisting arrest. http://www.freealvaro.net/

Ramsey Muñiz is a Chicano activist who ran for governor of Texas in 1972 and 1974 as the La Raza Unida Party candidate. La Raza Unida is a political party most active in the Southwest in the 1970s that focused on working class issues and Chicano nationalism. Members faced repression for posing a serious threat to the two-party status-quo. Muñiz faced two drug-related charges and pled guilty before the three-strikes law was implemented. In 1994, he went to prison for life for his “third-strike.” Muñiz and his supporters maintain that the charge that sent him to prison for life was a frame-up.

Josh Williams was an active Black Lives Matter protester in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.  He participated in the protests against police brutality, sparked by the shooting of an unarmed teenager by a police officer. At the age of 19, Williams was sentenced to 8 years in prison for arson, burglary, and stealing. He entered a QuickTrip convenience store, which had previously been broken into by other looters, and lit fires inside and outside the store. His shockingly long sentence by a St. Louis judge was meant to intimidate other protestors against police brutality. Williams will be released in 2021. 

Stephen Kelly remains locked up in Glynn County Detention Center in Brunswick, Georgia where he is awaiting sentencing for his part in the  2018 King’s Bay Plowshares direct action for nuclear disarmament.

Fran Thompson is a long-time ecological defender. She is in jail for murder since 1994 after she successfully defended herself, killing a man who had threatened to murder her and had broken into her home. What she did was an act of personal defense against the patriarchal system, and she was also targeted because of her eco-defense, including that she was not allowed to enter a plea of self-defense.

Steve Donziger is a lawyer who won a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron because of the ecological damage they caused in Ecuador. Since that time, Chevron has removed its assets, making the judgment unenforceable, and pursued appeals and an aggressive counter lawsuit and smear campaign against Donziger. He was placed  under house arrest in 2019  awaiting trial.

Joseph Mahmoud Dibee was arrested August 10, 2018 for his participation in a series of arsons and other acts of sabotage between 1995 and 2001 for motivations of eco-defense and animal rights. Dibee was part of the Earth Liberation and Animal Liberation Fronts. Among the allegations against him are the arson of a meat packing plant in Redmond, Oregon, and a power plant in Bend, Oregon.

This is a list of people currently being detained and facing long sentences for their activities during the uprisings against racism and police brutality after George Floyd’s killing in the United States. It is very much a work in progress and subject to change, and may well contain errors. This is not a comprehensive list. This list shows people detained during the uprising and who are facing six months or more in jail.Since the uprising is ongoing, and since thousands of people have been and are being arrested, this situation is very much in flux. The repression of this movement by militarized police and federal agents is leading to a spike in politically motivated arrests and is resulting in a new wave of political prisoners and prisoners of empire. The situation is exacerbated by the leveling of felony charges against so many of those arrested for their resistance. We feel an obligation to provide a listing, even if partial, even if it lacks details, even if it contains errors, to help monitor as best as possible this part of the repression of the uprising. We very much need you and your partnership in this project. If you have information or updates that would affect our listings, if you know about people who should be listed and who are not, or if you see people who are listed who should not be, please let us know. Especially in this case, we cannot do our job accurately or adequately without your help. Please send your emails to James@AFGJ.org or to Natalia@AFGJ.org

  • Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis are anti-racist activists and lawyers who were arrested for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail through the broken window of a police car at a May 29, 2020 protest following the murder of George Floyd. They are facing a minimum sentence of 45 years and a maximum of life in prison. They are currently under house arrest, awaiting trial.
  • Brandon M. Wolfe was arrested June 3, 2020 for the arson of the Third Precinct police station in Minneapolis, and the theft of police equipment. A meme has circulated on social media claiming that Wolfe was a White Supremacist and provocateur, but the meme was anonymous and included nothing to back up the allegations. Up to now, we have seen nothing indicating Wolfe’s motivations other than the allegations that he was participating in the uprising in Minneapolis and, specifically, in the burning of the Third Precinct. Unless we receive other substantiated reports, we will consider his actions as part of the uprising and directed against police racism and violence, and his arrest to be a political detention that requires a political solution. We encourage those with more information to contact us.
  • Dylan Robinson was arrested in Colorado on June 14, 2020, after a video was posted on Snapchat allegedly showing him setting fire to a police station. He is now being held in Minnesota, awaiting trial.
  • Alexandria Dea and Viet Tran were charged on July 7, 2020 with a rarely applied count of unauthorized dissemination of intelligence data. On July 1, 2020, police in Des Moines, Iowa arrested 17 Black Lives Matters protesters. During the protest, Dea retrieved paper from the back pocket of a police officer with information and photos of resistors suspected of burning of a police car. Tran publicly displayed the document at a protest at the state capitol to demand the release of those who had been detained on July 1st. Dea has additionally been charged with theft of the document, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years. We do not know if Dea has been released, but according to our latest information, Tran is still in jail because his actions were counted as violations of his parole stemming from the July 1 arrests.
  • Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal. Blumenthal is a Philadelphia woman accused of torching two police cars during protests outside City Hall on May 30. The FBI was able to track down Blumenthal through Instagram, Etsy, and LinkedIn. At this moment, she remains at the Federal Detention Center in Center City, held without bail, and faces a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence if convicted. However, If convicted, the defendant could face a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison.

Guantanamo inmates are prisoners held in indefinite detention without trial, most since 2002. The Guantanamo Prison, part of the US base there illegally occupying Cuban land, is notorious for its inhumane and degrading conditions and systemic use of torture. According to Witness Against Torture there are 40 prisoners at the prison despite 16 of them having been cleared for release. http://closeguantanamo.org, http://www.witnesstorture.org

Immigrant detention centers hold undocumented workers, families and students. Every year more than 400,000 immigrants are detained, and on any given day there are around 40,000 persons in immigrant detention centers. These individuals are jailed because of the US’s fervent anti-immigrant political ideology.

As recently as the 1980s, immigrants were rarely detained. They were either accused of misdemeanors and quickly deported or permitted to go about their lives pending immigration hearings. In recent years there has been a massive boom in immigrant detention and deportation. Even though we are experiencing the lowest level of immigration from Mexico into the US in 45 years, private immigrant detention centers are a booming and highly protected industry. The US government has promised to supply enough undocumented immigrants to keep 36,000 beds in detention centers occupied all year round.

Racism, class repression, and xenophobia are the political forces underlying the boom in immigrant detainees. The US government increasingly criminalizes undocumented people. Rather than treating them like low-level civil offenders, our new policy is to target them arbitrarily, and once they are arrested to lock them up. Being undocumented is a highly-politicized crime. Those incarcerated in immigration detention centers are a class of Prisoners of Empire too numerous to name.

Mass incarceration is a foundational element of racist and anti-worker oppression. Not every target of state repression makes it to jail or is given a chance to defend themselves in court or even be charged with a crime. Many of those who die as a result of state-sanctioned violence are guilty of nothing more than fitting an ethnic profile that makes one a suspect by virtue of the color of their skin. Every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman or child.

While non-hispanic Whites make up 63.7% of the US population, people of African heritage and Latinos make up almost two thirds of those in US jails. Persons lacking a GED or high school diploma make up 47 percent of inmates, and the annual income of the incarcerated, prior to their arrests, was 41% less than their peers among the un-incarcerated.

With under 5% of the world’s population, the US jails 25% of the world prison population, with 2.3 million prisoners. The development and growth of the mass incarceration model took place at the same time crime rates have been in decline. The primary purpose of the US prison system appears to be about social control, intimidation of resistance and the maintenance of a massive and legal form of slave labor.

Conditions in US prisons reflect a lack of basic health care, isolation from family and community, lack of educational opportunity, widespread incidents of torture and beatings, and generally degrading treatment. US prisons hold over 80,000 persons in solitary confinement. In 2012 alone the Justice Department estimates there had been 216,000 victims of prison rape.

While we do not call all prisoners political prisoners, we must note that they are all subjects to a politically motivated system of oppression. The repercussions of the US incarceration model are felt acutely far beyond the locked doors and bars of our jails. The politics of fear is diffused throughout US society, particularly for poor people and racial minorities. We have seven million US residents who are in prison, on parole or on probation. When we consider the massive government monitoring of our population, we can justifiably call the United States a prison nation.

https://afgj.org/politicalprisonersusa

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Political Prisoners List 2020


Burma

Political Prisoners List 2020

Posted on March 17, 2020  •  Posted in Political Prisoners List

Political Prisoners list

August

33 Remaining PP list • 504 Facing Trial List (English) Updated on 31 Aug 20

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10 Iran Protesters on Death Row


34 Political Prisoners Including 10 Iran Protesters on Death Row

September 17, 2020FacebookTwitterEmail

At least 34 political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are currently sentenced to death Iranian prisons, 10 of whom are protesters who took part in nationwide protests in 2017, 2018, and 2019. 

Two protesters in Isfahan and Shiraz have already been hanged by the regime. Mostafa Salehi was executed on August 5 for his role in Iran’s December 2017/January 2018 protests in Isfahan. The father of two said he was tortured to confess to a murder he did not commit. He maintained his innocence until his death.

Another protester Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari was executed in Iran on September 12 despite a high-profile international campaign calling for the sentence not to be carried out. The regime had accused Navid of killing a security agent, a charge he vehemently denied and said was forced to confess to under torture.

The 27-year-old has been hailed as a national hero by many Iranians and has become a well-known Iranian political prisoner in the world due to his brave statements from prison on the regime’s injustice.

The Iranian regime’s use of the death penalty against political prisoners and protesters is aimed at intimidating would-be protesters and prevent future protests.

The present report lists the names of other political prisoners on death row in Iranian prisons.

The Greater Tehran Penitentiary:

Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi were sentenced to death in connection with the nationwide protests that took place in November 2019. Iran’s judiciary spokesperson accused them of being “riot leaders”.

Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi have said they were kicked, hung upside down and repeatedly beaten. Amirhossein Moradi has said that interrogators tortured him through beatings, electric shocks and standing on his chest. He also reported painful kidney problems as a result of the torture. Despite this, he has been denied medical care. His “confessions”, which he has said were given under torture, were used as evidence by the court to convict all three.

Victims of Coronavirus held in proximity of dangerous criminals in Greater Tehran Penitentiary

Dastgerd Prison of Isfahan:

Mohammad Bastami, Hadi Keyani (Kiani), Abbas Mohammadi, Majid Nazari Kondori, and Mehdi Salehi- Qaleh Shahrokhi, have received “two death sentences” each for “waging war against God” and “taking up arms against the state”.

The five young men all born in the 1990s, were arrested in Isfahan, central Iran, for participating in widespread anti-government protests in late 2017 and early 2018.

They have been under intense interrogation and torture by authorities in order to obtain confessions to crimes they did not commit.

Iran Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence For Five Protesters

Khorramabad Prison:

Mohammad Keshvari is one of the Iranian protesters on death row in Iran. He was detained for his role in November 2019 protests. He was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court on June 28.

Mohammad Keshvari
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Anger in the Philippines as ‘political prisoner’ denied the right to hold her dying baby–Pray for Change and Human Rights in the Philippines


Anger in the Philippines as ‘political prisoner’ denied the right to hold her dying baby

Nicola Smith,The TelegraphOctober 14, 2020

Activists are demanding the release of Reina Mae Nasino - Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Activists are demanding the release of Reina Mae Nasino – Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The harsh treatment of a young human rights worker whose newborn baby died while she was in jail on what her supporters claim are trumped up charges has sparked widespread anger in the Philippines. 

River, the three-month-old daughter of Reina Mae Nasino, tragically died of pneumonia just weeks after she was torn from her inconsolable mother despite a concerted campaign to keep the pair together and allow the infant to be nurtured and breastfed. 

The controversy has gripped a country where the contrast of the alleged VIP treatment of rich and well-connected prison inmates has already sparked deep-seated resentment within the general population. 

Ms Nasino, 23, who worked for the urban poverty group Kadamay, was arrested in November 2019 during a mass crackdown by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration on dozens of Left-leaning activists.

She and two colleagues in the same office were charged with the illegal possession of firearms and explosives, which all three denied and said were planted by the authorities as a pretext to jail them.  

Ms Nasino's supporters say she is a political prisoner - Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Ms Nasino’s supporters say she is a political prisoner – Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Ms Nasino only discovered she was pregnant after her arrest, and campaigners persisted without success in appealing for her release, arguing that she had been jailed for political reasons.  

She gave birth on July 1. The child was underweight and, along with the support of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), her mother pleaded for them to be allowed to remain together for six months. 

That request was denied, as was an urgent plea for permission to be with River to hold and comfort the baby when her health began to rapidly deteriorate and she lay dying in hospital from a bacterial infection in her lungs in early October. 

A new wave of public anger over the cruelty of the situation was unleashed this week after the prison challenged a court order to grant Ms Nasino a three-day furlough to attend River’s wake and funeral. 

Jail officials fought to shorten the period from three days to two, citing a lack of personnel, and Ms Nasino’s release on Wednesday morning has now become a media spectacle. 

“The reduction of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino’s furlough is a ‘merciless act of torture and injustice’,” human rights alliance Karapatan said in a statement. 

Maria Ressa, a prominent journalist and government critic, said there had been a “tragic mishandling,” of Ms Nasino’s case. 

“Courts and the law are not just supposed to act for government. They are there to protect the rights of each Filipino,” she tweeted. 

Multiple rights groups have now asked for compassionate leave to allow Ms Nasino to grieve with her family. 

“We assert our call for the compassionate release of Reina Mae from prison to correct this blatant injustice done to her and her baby who was never given a chance to live,” said Kapatid, a support group for political prisoners, according to the Philippine Inquirer. 

Others have called for an overhaul of the rules governing the imprisonment of mothers and their babies. 

“No words can suffice for this monstrous lack of compassion by this rotten system for the baby and her mother,” said Arlene Brosas, a child’s rights activist and member of the House of Representatives.  

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Azerbaijan seeks to strengthen authoritarian coordination with Turkey to bring Mercenaries from Syria (Privatizing Violence)


Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Why Turkey’s Intervention Could Turn It into a “Proxy War”

STORY OCTOBER 09, 2020 Watch Full Show  This is viewer supported news. Please do your part today. DONATE

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - Wikipedia
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  • Anna Ohanyanprofessor of political science and international relations at Stonehill College.

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The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan are in Moscow for talks following two weeks of fighting over the disputed territory Nagorno-Karabakh. At least 300 people have already died in what could turn into a wider regional conflagration, with Turkey openly supporting Azerbaijan and Russia backing Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh lies inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians. “Turkey’s intervention on the side of Azerbaijan is very destabilizing,” says Anna Ohanyan, professor of political science and international relations at Stonehill College. “It creates the conditions of transforming this conflict into a proxy war.”


Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we spend the rest of the hour looking at the ongoing fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where at least 300 people have died since the violence began two weeks ago — the real death toll expected to be far higher. Russia said both countries have agreed to talks in Moscow, expected to take place today, a sign that a ceasefire may be on the table. French President Emmanuel Macron said the — his office said the two countries were, quote, “moving toward a truce … but it’s still fragile.”

Nagorno-Karabakh lies inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians. It was the site of a bloody conflict in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many fear this latest spike in conflict, the worst since the ’90s, could spark a regional war, with Turkey openly supporting Azerbaijan and Russia allied with Armenia. The Guardian reports Syrian rebel fighters have signed up to work with private Turkish forces in Azerbaijan, and Turkey is reportedly supplying Azerbaijan with drones and weapons. In an interview with Sky News earlier this week, the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Turkey of continuing its genocidal policies against the Armenian people.

PRIME MINISTER NIKOL PASHINYAN: [translated] It is absolutely not inflammatory language when I say that this is Turkey’s policy to continue the Armenian genocide. Let us look at what Turkey is implementing in the Mediterranean, in Libya, in Syria, Iraq. To me, there is not doubt that this is a policy of continuing the Armenian genocide and a policy of reinstating the Turkish Empire.

AMY GOODMAN: Amnesty International reports Azerbaijan has used banned cluster bombs in civilian areas.

Well, for more, we go to Concord, Massachusetts, where we’re joined by Anna Ohanyan, professor of political science and international relations at Stonehill College. She’s the author of Russia Abroad: Driving Regional Fracture in Post-Communist Eurasia and Beyond and Networked Regionalism as Conflict Management.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Professor Ohanyan. It’s great to have you with us. This is an area of the world that I believe most people in the United States are not paying much attention to. If you can talk about exactly what’s happening, as the foreign ministers of both Armenia and Azerbaijan are now coming to Moscow today, apparently, for peace talks? But what has happened? Why has this conflagration grown?

ANNA OHANYAN: Thank you very much, Amy, for covering the developments, the violence that is ongoing, the offensive from on the Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan and Turkey, coordinated offensive.

As you mentioned already, Turkey has come, has been supporting Azerbaijan diplomatically previously, as well as training the Azerbaijani military. But this particular involvement, the specific type of intervention, Turkey’s intervention on the side of Azerbaijan, is very destabilizing in terms of the support with the mercenaries, as well as drone technology. It creates the conditions of transforming this conflict into a proxy war.

But there are two broad perspectives, have been applied to analyze as to what has been going on. More of the more easily understood geopolitical analysis, “two-dimensional,” what I would call, has been describing — has been prevalent and explaining this conflict as a resurgence of Turkey trying to enter the South Caucasus as a regional power broker, although Erdogan has been self-proclaiming his foreign policy being neo-Ottomanism, essentially challenging given Turkish territorial boundaries recognized by the Lausanne Treaty. So, the geopolitical analysis also will have us think about this as a confrontation between Russia and Turkey.

But I think this narrative is really missing a lot that is very much under the radar and has not been picked up as much by the international news coverage. And the key development here is the domestic, domestic factors driving the foreign policies of these countries, Turkey and Azerbaijan. In particular, what is missing from the discourse is that two years ago Armenia had a democratic breakthrough, the Velvet Revolution, which was bottom up, driven by people power, a nonviolent disobedience campaign. And this created — was very significant for South Caucasus, because it created a democratic dyad with neighboring Georgia, already being a democratic society. Studies in social science and peace research have established that when in a region a democratic pole is strengthened, this creates cause, this creates pressure on the authoritarian pole — in this case, Azerbaijan — towards democratization.

So, this Aliyev regime, that — where President Aliyev inherited his seat from his father and is grooming his wife to take over — so, Aliyev, for a while, it looked like, tried to be a lot more accommodative. However, within two years, you also see Belarus protests breaking up, and people kept referring to Lukashenko as the last dictator of Europe, which is a mischaracterization because Aliyev is actually probably the last dictator of Europe. This Aliyev, instead of really trying to move in that direction, pulled in Turkey. I think the democratic dyad between the change, the structure, strengthened the democratic pole in South Caucasus, and therefore created an important avenue for mitigating the conflict. This was essentially offset by authoritarian coordination between Azerbaijan and Turkey.

So, Turkey’s entry, I mentioned, changes the structure of the conflict, because by bringing in mercenaries from Syria, it does two very important and unfortunate things. It introduces privatization and privatizes violence in a country. Probably these types of state formation conflicts that you see, of which Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one, they’re already hard to negotiate through a negotiated settlement, but they’re also hard to win militarily. So, introducing this element, Turkey’s change of the structure of this conflict, is very destabilizing for the region. Also —

AMY GOODMAN: Now, talk about the significance of the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan going to Moscow today for peace talks. Of course, Putin, we know, is in a basically COVID bunker since March, does not see a lot of people. They have to be quarantined for two weeks before they can see him, going through disinfectant tunnels, everything like that. But why Moscow? And what do you think will come of this?

ANNA OHANYAN: I definitely — any push, any diplomatic attention to end the hostilities is welcome news. I think at this point the challenge is to end the violence. Turkey has been the only country, among the regional powers, great powers that matter, that has been pushing for a militarized solution, which would be — any militarized solution to the conflict would be a loss for Azerbaijani people, as well. It would be very difficult for Azerbaijani society to move into a democratic path down the road.

Russia’s role, in particular, here, I have to say, Russia has been the grown-up in the room. Russia, contrary to the, what I referred to, geopolitical analysis, that would have Russia and Turkey clashing — obviously there are tensions. Obviously Russia and Turkey are on different sides of conflicts in Syria, in Libya. But here, this indeed has been Russia’s historical backyard since predating the Soviet Union. And what is important here is that Russia has been playing — Kremlin has been playing very much an institutional role. In contrast to Turkey, it is using all the regional organizations and institutional channels that it created. So, the question is whether Kremlin will have enough leverage to pressure both sides. I am worried that it’s Turkey here, is the big factor. Whether Russia is pulling in the ministers of foreign affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan is really wonderful. It’s important. So, right now — but I’m, again, not sure how Turkish factor will be handled.

AMY GOODMAN: We just have —

ANNA OHANYAN: Any —

AMY GOODMAN: We just have 30 seconds.

ANNA OHANYAN: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: But you have called Azerbaijan an authoritarian petrostate. And the area we’re talking about, Nagorno-Karabakh, is an area of pipelines, of oil. This is that oil-rich area. Why is this significant?

ANNA OHANYAN: This is very significant, because, again, from the global perspective, The Economist magazine just issued a very important report that the global capital markets are shifting towards green energy order. So, this will be in the — that report also pointed out, not surprisingly, that this creates pressure on the petrostates to move towards taxation, taxing their citizens, which will require them to engage and build representative institutions.

This is a diversionary war on the side of Aliyev, that has been — domestic discontent has been enormous. And Aliyev has — the authoritarianism in Azerbaijan has been nourished by the oil, by the pipelines. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan emerged as an independent country and started to control its oil resources. Unfortunately, the —

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

ANNA OHANYAN: Yeah, this authoritarianism, this militarism has not been challenged, and we see this playing out in Nagorno-Karabakh.

AMY GOODMAN: And we’ll, of course, continue to follow this. Anna Ohanyan, thanks so much for being with us, professor of political science and international relations at Stonehill College. Her books include Russia Abroad.

That does it for our show. Stay safe. Wear a mask. Save lives. I’m Amy Goodman.The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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