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Irom Sharmila continues fast; rearrested days after her release

 

Authorities in India’s north-eastern state of Manipur have again arrested noted human rights activist Irom Sharmila just  two days after her court ordered release. Sharmila has been on a hunger strike for 14 years demanding revocation of a draconian law that gives sweeping powers to Indian security forces to fight separatist movements. Sharmila is being held at a hospital for force-feeding. As Bismillah Geelani reports, the arrest has evoked strong criticism and renewed calls for repealing the law that many believe is encouraging human rights abuses.


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Barely 40 hours after Irom Sharmila’s release, dozens of police arrived at the protest site where the 42-year-old activist had continued her hunger strike, surrounded by supporters. The officers grabbed Sharmila’s arms and legs and took her, almost dragging her, into a police vehicle.

Sharmila and her supporters resisted shouting “you can’t do this, it’s illegal,” but she was taken back to the hospital where she has been force-fed through a nasal tube for 14 years.

“They treated her as if she was a wild animal who was going to attack them or some kind of a terrorist who was going to take out a gun and shoot them,” described local activist Babloo Loithingam, who said it was shocking to watch. “The amount of force they used was such that her nail started coming off, her right toe was bleeding and her clothes were dropping, even the brutal colonial British who were colonizing this country and sucking it did not arrest Mahatma Gandhi when he was on hunger strike, they never called him a criminal, they respected him.”

Once again, police charged Sharmila with attempted suicide. The court that ordered her release earlier this month had dismissed the same charge, finding that her political protest was not necessarily an attempt to kill herself.

“It is a mockery of our judicial system,” said Ravi Nitesh, coordinator of the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. “We knew that the government would do something to keep her away from public because people were rallying around her and she has the potential to build a strong movement against the draconian laws but we had not expected that they would violate the judiciary in this manner.”

In 2011, the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign organized marches and public meetings in several Indian states to raise awareness about the importance of Sharmila’s struggle. Nitesh says the government’s response to Sharmila’s protest only reinforces deeply held skepticism about the effectiveness of non-violent methods of struggle.

“We are sending a very wrong and dangerous message by continuously ignoring Irom Sharmila’s struggle,” Nitesh said. “I remember meeting many people during that long journey and an overwhelming majority was of the view that Irom Sharmila’s decade-long hunger strike with no result was proof that non-violence does not work. We tried to convince them that it was not the case but in reality we are giving people reasons to believe that in order to make the system respond to your genuine demands you have to take recourse to other ways.”
Irom Sharmila began her fast in 2000 against India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

“Until and unless my demand is fulfilled, I will not take anything through my mouth,” Sharmila told journalists after her release last week, reiterating her stand that she would end the fast only after the law is repealed. “It is my right. I will not take anything.”

The law gives impunity to Indian security forces operating in areas declared as “disturbed.” Under this law a soldier has the power to search arrest and even shoot a person on the mere suspicion of being a militant. The law is currently in effect in India’s north-eastern states and in Indian administered region of Kashmir where armed insurgencies against Indian rule are on-going.

In all these areas, human rights abuses alarmingly increased after the law was introduced and human rights groups have for long demanded a repeal.

“There have been so many commissions appointed by the Supreme Court and by the federal government which themselves have said that this law should go,” explains Raghu Menon, Senior Policy Adviser with Amnesty International India. “I think that if anything should be the starting point for this new government which has taken charge just over a hundred days ago, to set in motion a process that will take into account the concerns raised by people of great integrity, respect and experience who were appointed by the government and raised red flags as well, so it is not just activists who are saying this.”

In the past, the now-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has opposed the idea of repealing the law. As a government however, the party’s policy on the issue remains to be seen.

(Photo Credit: Press Trust of India)

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Mumia Abu Jamal: Post Ferguson

Funeral services were held this week Michael Brown, the unarmed black youth shot at least six times and killed by a white Ferguson, Missouri police officer. Brown’s family asked for a day of reprieve from the protests that followed young man’s death, and calm has largely followed.

Images of protestors demanding answers met by a militarized police with high powered automatic weapons and tanks flooded the media for weeks. But as the protests ebb, so does the media presence in Ferguson. Mumia Abu Jamal comments on the aftermath of the protests and reporting in Ferguson, Missouri.


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As the body of Michael “Mike Mike” Brown is consigned to the earth, network news casters and broadcasters are packing their gear, canceling their hotel rooms and setting their sights on new wonders, new images, and news stories. That the tragic saga in Ferguson struck national news desks is both rare and unprecedented, given the length and depth of the story.

But to reporters, stories come and stories go and the Brown story is going. Part of the reason is the incessant media chorus for the expulsion for the so-called outside agitators, seen as the violence-prone troublemakers coming on the scene. Once gone, tension drained away like an unwanted migraine and tension, in the words of Martin Luther King, creative tension is the stuff that animates protests and helps fuel movements.

It is the job of the managerial class of lawyers, preachers, and politicians to reduce tensions, to de-radicalize movements, to make them manageable. And once they become manageable, they lose their mass base and with it, its social power. For the masses know the essential nature of the police, for they see them and gauge them daily. They know them as violent, vicious, and venal government officials and they are hungry, anxious to oppose them.

Movements are a lot like volcanoes which appear dormant or sleeping. Unseen are underground forces churning, boiling, crashing like waves against a hidden shore until one day, usually a day none had foreseen, it erupts, flashing its red molten rage over miles, changing everything. That’s what movements do and what they are.

If hot enough, they can change everything. Everything. But political, media, and state forces don’t want change, they want continuity. For therein lies both their profits and their power and who wants to lose either of those things.

Therefore, the tragedy of Ferguson will be stuck back into the pillow of forgetfulness until next time.

From Imprisoned Nation, this is Mumia Abu Jamal.
 

(Photo Credit: Prison Radio via Flickr Creative Commons)

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Despite tenuous peace deal, thousands still fleeing Central African Republic

Since the Central African Republic — or CAR — gained independence from France in 1960, there have been eight coups. The security situation in the country has deteriorated during years of war, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced by violence have fled the country.

The most recent fighting has been between remnants of the predominantly Muslim Séléka rebels and the largely Christian and animist anti-balaka militias. Despite a shaky peace deal between the two groups signed in July, refugees continue to stream into neighboring Cameroon.


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The journey between countries is long, and made mostly on foot. Those who survive the trek arrive weak and exhausted. Once in Cameroon they face a different set of challenges, including malnourishment and police brutality. FSRN’s Ngala Killian Chimtom traveled to Cameroon’s Eastern borders, the main entry point for the refugees, and files this report.

Yvette Faradongo weeps in front of her tent in Giwa Yagambo, a refugee camp in Cameroon’s Eastern Region. She has just lost one of her children ­ a two year­old daughter she had managed to save from the raging war in her own country: the Central African Republic. But the child couldn’t survive the malnutrition suffered during thirty days of trekking through the forests in search of peace and safety in neighboring Cameroon.

“We are fleeing death,” said Faradongo. “My son here got a bullet in the thigh. He is 22 years old. My younger sister was killed! A five-year­-old girl: killed just like that! We can’t stay in a place like that. We are running for our lives. You have the Séléka and the anti-balaka. Muslims have no love for Christians and vice versa. That’s what worsened everything.”

Almost every refugee here has a story of the horror and pain of losing loved ones in fleeing the conflict. Francis Ndengo crossed the border to Cameroon, but arrived bearing the mental scars of trauma.

“When I arrived here, I learned that my cousin had been shot, and I also found out that what remained of my family sought refuge in the Bangui-Bimbo St. Mark Major Seminary,” Ndengo said. When you are in a situation like that, you think only about your own survival. So everyone fled to separate destinations.”

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees says the influx of refugees into Cameroon has dropped slightly – from 10,000 people a week to slightly over 8,000 people. But some attribute the drop to the inability of those suffering from malnutrition to make the long and difficult journey to Cameroon, rather than an abating of the fighting in the CAR.

UNHCR field officer, Constancia Terribe says her organization, along with other aid agencies, has been struggling as best they can to treat the exhausted and malnourished refugees.

“Lately we have some people coming with malnutrition mainly, but with the help of our partners, we are working to help all these people recover,” explains Terribe. “They have been traveling for a long time, maybe weeks, or some of them they have been walking through the forests, so they come exhausted and they come with some health issues. This is why health is one of the major assistance that UNHCR and its partners give to the refugees.”

The life for refugees from CAR here is made worse by locals who exploit them and security forces who wield their power over them.

“We don’t have freedom of movement,” said refugee Francis Ndengo. “Security forces won’t accept the food rationing card as identification, which is the only document the UNHCR gave us. When you get to a checkpoint and present the card, they tell you that you cause trouble. Either they ask you to pay bribes, or tell you to go back or even throw you into jail. It’s only the UNHCR that would negotiate your release.

“This is our major problem here,” Ndengo continues. “But there is also a lot of exploitation, because people hire us to work on their farms and once the work is done, they often won’t pay.”

The refugees want the UNHCR to issue them refugee identification cards which will allow them to move around the country with greater ease. But Constancia Terribe says it could be a long and convoluted process.

“This is a very young operation,” Terribe explains of the UN mission. “And to issue refugee card, it takes time because it needs to be agreed with the Cameroon government. So we are working on it and we hope that by September, we will be in a position to facilitate this document accrediting them as refugees.”

Despite all these problems, many of the refugees here don’t think they will return to their home country anytime soon.

“The question of going back or not is linked to several factors,” says 64-year-old Augustine Dolly Debat, a retired engineer from the CAR. “First, there must be peace in the country. If we came to Cameroon, it’s because we know that Cameroon is a peaceful country. So if there is no peace, we can’t envisage a return. And going back will be an individual decision. Each person will have to decide to return or not to return. And that too is linked to several factors. How will the person who decides to go back home survive after losing everything?”

Instead, many here look forward to integrating into the larger Cameroonian society. But to do this, they need basic revenue on which to survive. Terribe says the UNHCR is working with partners to help the refugees build small businesses or plant crops while their shelter and basic food needs are provided for.

Students who fled CAR say their future lies in continuing their education. But demand far outweighs spaces available for the refugees in Cameroonian schools, especially at the university level.

While the number of refugees flooding into Cameroon from the Central African Republic has declined since 2013, the UNHCR estimates more than 200,00 thousand are currently in the country. Of that number, many plan to stay for the foreseeable, yet uncertain future.

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California farmers turn to social media to reduce food watse

Farmers in California are struggling with record drought, and it’s proven particularly tough for small-scale farmers. This spring researchers from the University of California, Davis reported that it could cost the agricultural industry as much as $1.7 billion dollars as the drought continues for its third year.

Adding to the problem is that about 40 percent of food produced on farms in the U.S. doesn’t even make it to market. Farmers often simply can’t sell their produce before it spoils and their bounty goes uneaten.

But now, one social media venture in Northern California is trying to reduce food waste and keep small farms from going under. Their solution is to distribute to consumers food that would otherwise usually be thrown out. FSRN’s Jacob Resneck explains.


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Western Sonoma County in Northern California is dotted with pastureland, vineyards and orchards. Towering eucalyptus and grazing cattle line the vista around Bloomfield Organics, a 42-acre farm near the hamlet of Valley Ford.

Bloomfield Organics has been in business for more than 15 years, beginning when organic produce was still considered a small, niche market. But like most farms, it struggles to reduce how much is wasted.

A 2012 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that 40 percent of food is wasted from the farm to the dinner table. The reasons are varied but much is lost in production for a variety of reasons from labor shortages, to rigid aesthetic standards set by retailers to problems with supply lines.

And the highest waste is in the fresh produce sector.

“It’s unacceptable to have a mindset that food should go to waste,” said Nick Papadopoulos, the owner of Bloomfield Organics’ son-in-law.

Papadopoulos started working on the farm as general manager after working as an efficiency consultant for corporations across the nation.

But he says he was soon shocked by what he saw.

“One third of the global food supply is completely wasted. It doesn’t get to people. You set that in the context of a growing population and about a billion people who are looking for their next meal – literally – and are food insecure to have that level of supply and that ferocious level of demand and yet the dots not being connected, that’s a real crisis as well as an opportunity,” he said.

Papadopoulos says he had this epiphany in one of the farm’s walk-in coolers where unsold produce often piled up. He says the piles of unsold produce made him think.

“We have premium, organic food that we’ve invested a lot of money in growing and a lot of natural resources.’ And for a small farm, a lot of love – and it didn’t get to people,” he recalled. “And that hit me across the head like a 2-by-4 and for the first time I had noticed that was a reoccurring pattern for our farm.”

He decided to do something about it. The answer, he reasoned, was social media.

“I saw the food. I recognized that it was going to the chickens or the compost pile and I decided to launch a series of social media experiments. So what I did was I wrote a short note to our online community.”

Within hours, people online responded. The food found a home and the farm recovered some of its costs, by selling the surplus produce at below market prices. The website called CropMobster is an efficient way to reduce food waste.

The farm’s owner Michael Collins, sitting atop his tractor, says the website has really helped to reduce waste and save money.

“You know, I don’t keep track of it, but I know they say okay they say we’re gonna put that on CropMobster because we just can’t move it – and boom, ya know (it’s gone),” Collins said. “It’s fantastic to not even have to think about it. Because just usually things just get diced under by the tractor.”

Collins says fellow farmers are getting enthused about using social media to find a market for things like ‘seconds potatoes’ – these are potatoes that may not be the size, shape or color retailers demand but still make for perfectly good eating.

“All of these ‘seconds potatoes’ make great soup and of course I can get a little something for that too, which we normally wouldn’t.”

Papadopoulos eventually stepped down from the farm to run the website full-time, growing the project thanks to technology partners and steady donations. He’s also traveled to New York to attend working groups with the united nations where researchers and advocates like the NRDC attempt to find ways to reduce global food waste.

It’s not an insignificant problem. The ramifications are huge for humanitarian, economic and ecological reasons. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2009 that in the U.S., 13 percent of all methane – a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change – is produced by uneaten food that’s been dumped in landfills.

Roughly one year on, CropMobster has seen about 400 alerts and about a thousand people sign up though it’s still limited to the San Francisco Bay Area.

The site’s operators are trying to figure out how to expand its application. Meanwhile in this part of Northern California, the drought is hitting hard.

On a small orchard outside Santa Rosa, orchard owner Don Rosenberg says drought has been ravaging his fruit trees. But this summer he found himself left with boxes of fast ripening apricots. So he posted an alert on CropMobster with a plea for people to take the fruit before it spoiled.

“Everybody came – except for one person – came out with a box of apricots,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg says at first he was a bit skeptical but he saw instant results.

“I said: ‘I’ve got all of this, this is what the wholesale price is. They have to go, they have to be eaten.’ And my neighbor said: ‘Gee, Don, you must’ve had about 20 people coming here.’”

For Rosenberg it was heartening not to have to compost perfectly good fruit and also to meet people face-to-face that appreciated his work.

And Nick Papadopoulos? He’s already given the CropMobster site over to his partners to work on other projects.

But he says he hopes this initiative will be just one of many that helps find solutions to the food waste problem.

“A lot of natural resources go into the production of food: water, energy, nutrients. So when one-third of world supply is wasted, so it’s a huge amount of precious resources,” Papadopoulos said. “In a state like California where we’ve got a water crisis, it really just brings that issue home and it brings to light, the fact that tackling food waste, in a way that serves hunger relief, in a way that provides incentives to small farmers, food businesses and nonprofits, is a real window of opportunity that all of can get involved in to make a difference.”

So far, CropMobster has managed to distribute nearly a million pounds of food, which has brought in close to a million dollars in revenue for small producers. That’s good news for small farmers struggling to stay afloat and good news for people in need of affordable, nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste.

Photographs copyrighted by Jacob Resneck.

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Slideshow: Protests in New York call for Police Accountability

All photos copyrighted by Rebecca Myles.

In New York, unarmed Eric Garner died in July after police placed him in a chokehold. Over the weekend, thousands of people attended a mass rally and march calling for justice for Garner’s death. FSRN’s Rebecca Myles attended the event, and brought back these photos.

To hear an audio report or read an article about the March for Justice, click here.

Click on any image to launch a slideshow.

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NY March for Justice in Eric Garner chokehold death calls for police accountibility across country

Funeral services were held Monday for Michael Brown, the unarmed black youth shot at least six times and killed by a white Ferguson, Missouri police officer. Thousands of people – including local residents, community leaders and national civil rights and political figures – attended the services. Revered Al Sharpton eulogized Brown in a fiery sermon that called for police, and community, accountability. Brown’s family has asked for a day of reprieve from the protests that followed Brown’s death and have persisted now into a third week. Images of protestors demanding answers met by a militarized police with high powered automatic weapons and tanks have flooded the media for weeks.

Michael Brown’s death was one in a series of recent incidents of police shootings and excessive use of force nationwide.

In New York, unarmed Eric Garner died in July after police placed him in a chokehold. Over the weekend, thousands of people attended a mass rally and march calling for justice for Garner’s death. FSRN’s Rebecca Myles attended the event.


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The lunchtime rally in Staten Island on Saturday attracted a diverse group of supporters — moms with strollers, hippies with guitars, union members, followers of the Nation of Islam, hipsters, hip-hoppers and a huge posse of adults and children behind a banner for New York State National Association of the Advancement of Colored People. It started late, beginning at Jay Street where NYPD officers Eric Garner in a choke hold. A slow march past the Staten Island District Attorney’s office was followed by a rally near the 120th police precinct, where two police officers have been temporarily relieved of duty.

“We are not here to cause violence, we are here because violence was caused,” Reverend Al Sharpton said in his address to the crowd. “An illegal chokehold is violence. To stand around and watch a man victimized and no one do anything about it is violence. When a man with a video camera shows more regard for human life than those sworn to serve and protect, that’s violence.”

Call and response chants kept time with the rotors of overhead police helicopters. “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot,” “We are the people, the mighty, mighty people,” and “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”

Eric Garner, a father of six, died on July 17 after police placed him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him. Officers accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. A cell phone video of the incident shows Garner telling the officers, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” The city medical examiner cited the chokehold and compression of his chest as the cause of Garner’s death.

The United Federation of Teachers and Healthcare Union, SEIU 1199, sponsored the rally. Some of their members are mothers of children killed by police.

“I want the culture in the police force to change where the police philosophy is one life. People need to live, be justice, not injustice,” said union member and Long Island nurse Polly Henry who came to give support to the family of the dead man. “Because we don’t hate the police, we know the police job is tough. I work with the public, too, I know it is tough, but I also know every life is valuable and what I must do to save a life I must do in my job as nursing. Black life is no different than white life, all life is valuable.”

Last week local Staten Island District Attorney Don Donavan announced he’s called for a special grand jury to investigate Garner’s death and decide whether or not to indict the police officers involved.

“In this case the charge that would fit most precisely is second degree manslaughter, or criminally reckless homicide or reckless manslaughter,” according to criminal defense and civil rights attorney Ron Kuby, who said under New York state criminal law, the police officer that killed Garner could be charged in a number of ways. “That is to say when one acts with a conscious disregard of a known death and death results you’re guilty of second degree manslaughter. That carries a maximum sentence of five to fifty years in prison, and no minimum penalty. There is lesser charge, criminally negligent homicide, far less serious but it is a felony.

“Much of that type of conduct also can be prosecuted under federal law,” Kuby added, saying the Department of Justice could also launch a federal probe. “In this case because these were police officers, because they were acting with the authority of the state with the authority of the State, of the City, they can be held liable for criminal violation of the federal civil rights code. And in this case what would have to be proven in federal court is that the officer in question intentionally used excessive force in arresting Eric Garner and if you can prove that beyond a reasonable doubt and prove that death resulted and in this case it did, a longer term of imprisonment would result.”

According to the NYPD, there were no arrests on Saturday. Among the demonstrators was a white couple, Bob and Ruth (who gave only their first names), wearing T-shirts reading “One Community, One City, Respect for All.” Ruth said she came “because it is simply unacceptable to use that kind of force on somebody who is unarmed and not even being confrontational, and unless people like us stand up and say it is unacceptable it is going to continue.”

According to attorney Kuby, the only way to hold police accountable for crimes committed against the citizenry is through an independent statewide prosecutor for police misconduct.

“That’s the only way you will get police accountability,” he said, “because local district attorneys are locally elected, they frequently rely on many of the same police officers who are investigating other police officers, and they are very reluctant as a rule to second guess the police involving line of duty killings, sometimes they won’t even present the case to a grand jury.”

As the grand jury probe continues, six New York congressional lawmakers who think there can’t be fair trial in the Eric Garner case given the Staten Island D.A.’s relationships with police have called for the Justice Department to investigate.

Click here to see a slideshow of pictures taken at the event.

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Police accountability in Ferguson complicated by lack of transparency

Protests after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson – head into a third week in Missouri.

Among other demands, the protesters are calling for full disclosure of information related to the shooting. Tony Rothert, Legal Director of the ACLU of Missouri, says that legal action has been necessary to force the release of what should be public  information.

Rothert: “Missouri has some great public records laws that are ignored sometimes and are being ignored here by police officials who have been keeping secret information about the shooting that should be made public.”

Hear the full-length Q&A with Rothert on legal actions taken by the ACLU of Missouri

A grand jury convened Wednesday to examine evidence in the shooting case. The process is expected to take several weeks. Meanwhile, Officer Wilson remains free.

The only arrests made in connection to the unrest so far have been the more than 150 arrests of protesters, journalists and legal observers in the streets of Ferguson.  Police data released to the Washington Post shows the overwhelming majority were for “refusal to disperse.”

Max Suchan, a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild, was arrested and released this week. He says police on the streets during the protests don’t wear visible identification, which complicates the documentation process.

Suchan: “So we sort of have a hodgepodge of different agencies and even when we were arrested, we had zip ties and two different handcuffs on us between when we were arrested and when we were actually brought to the county jail in Clayton because of the different jurisdictions, the handcuffs belonged to different police forces and had to be returned. So it’s very different in terms of holding people accountable for what they’re doing on the streets. It’s very difficult to identify the agency that each police officer is involved with and they’re not responsive to our questioning of who they are and what force they’re with.”

On Thursday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered National Guard forces to begin a gradual withdrawal from Ferguson, citing improvement in the on-the-ground situation. However, a state-of-emergency remains in effect for the area.


Photo: A memorial on the spot where Michael Brown was shot dead. Credit: Flickr user Peoplesworld. Used under Creative Commons license.

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FSRN: Weekly Edition - Aug. 22, 2014

 

  • Protests in Ferguson, Missouri continue; Michael Brown’s family prepares for his funeral
  • From Ferguson to L.A., protests demand police accountability
  • Journalist James Risen: will he be jailed for not revealing source?
  • Iraq: ISIS beheads U.S. reporter; US strategy remains unchanged
  • Gaza fighting resumes; medical infrastructure nears collapse
  • War crimes in northeastern Nigeria: Amnesty International

 

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Protests in Ferguson, Missouri continue as Michael Brown’s family prepares for his funeral

Protests after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson – head into a third week in Missouri.

(more…)


From Ferguson to L.A., protests demand police accountability

While the night-time protests in Ferguson, Missouri are growing smaller, they have inspired more than one hundred demonstrations around the country calling for police accountability. Lena Nozizwe reports from Los Angeles.


Journalist James Risen: will he be jailed for not revealing source?

While President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have asked law enforcement in Ferguson to not jail reporters for doing their jobs, press advocates are asking the administration and the Justice Department to stop legal action against a New York Times national security correspondent for doing his.

As Ashley Westerman reports from Washington, DC, the years-long case of James Risen has had a chilling effect on journalists and whistleblowers.

Iraq: ISIS beheads U.S. reporter; US strategy remains unchanged

US military action in Iraq continues after the brutal execution of GlobalPost reporter James Foley this week. The militant group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, said that Foley was killed in retribution for US airstrikes on their fighters in northern Iraq, and they threatened to kill another hostage, US journalist Steven Sotloff. The Islamist insurgents control parts of north-eastern Syria and have captured large swaths of northern and eastern Iraq. According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, US strategy in Iraq remains unchanged.

“Our objectives remain clear and limited. To protect American citizens and facilities, to provide assistance to Iraqi fores as they confront ISIL, and to join with international partners to address the humanitarian crisis.”

FSRN correspondent Hermione Gee joins us from Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Hermione, given the US position that military action in Iraq will remain limited – how are other countries in the region responding?

Gaza fighting resumes; medical infrastructure nears collapse

Fighting resumed between Israel and Hamas this week in the Gaza Strip. Rocket fire and airstrikes early in the week were followed by targeted assassinations of Hamas leadership, including an attempt on military chief Mohammed Deif that killed his wife and infant son. And according to the Ma’an News Agency, in the past two days Hamas has executed as many as 18 people suspected of collaborating with Israel.

As Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continue, the effects of the past six weeks of shelling and bombing have left the coastal territory’s medical infrastructure in shambles. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

Protesters in San Fracisco Bay Area blocked an Israeli ship from offloading much of its cargo this week at the Port of Oakland. Find our report here.

War crimes in northeastern Nigeria: Amnesty International

Fighting in northeastern Nigeria between Boko Haram militants and the country’s armed forces has displaced about 400 thousand people this year alone. That’s according to the most recent estimate from Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, current through the end of July.

The fighting began five years ago, but there’s been a sharp increase in the violence this year, as well as in the number of reports of human rights abuses.

Now, Amnesty International is accusing both sides of the conflict of committing war crimes and has released a series of videos to back up the claims. One video documents the extra-judicial executions of multiple prisoners committed by men in Nigerian military uniforms. Another shows a process known as “screening” in which male residents of an area are rounded up on suspicion of belonging to Boko Haram. A third shows the aftermath of a Boko Haram attack on a village that killed nearly 100 local people.

As displaced villagers flee the conflict zone, they bring along stories of what they’ve survived. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.


(Photo Credit: Georg Thomas via Flickr, Music Credit:  Dave Imbernön via Jamendo; both under Creative Commons)

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FSRN: Weekly Edition - Aug. 22, 2014

 

  • Protests in Ferguson, Missouri continue; Michael Brown’s family prepares for his funeral
  • From Ferguson to L.A., protests demand police accountability
  • Journalist James Risen: will he be jailed for not revealing source?
  • Iraq: ISIS beheads U.S. reporter; US strategy remains unchanged
  • Gaza fighting resumes; medical infrastructure nears collapse
  • War crimes in northeastern Nigeria: Amnesty International

 

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Protests in Ferguson, Missouri continue as Michael Brown’s family prepares for his funeral

Protests after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson – head into a third week in Missouri.

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From Ferguson to L.A., protests demand police accountability

While the night-time protests in Ferguson, Missouri are growing smaller, they have inspired more than one hundred demonstrations around the country calling for police accountability. Lena Nozizwe reports from Los Angeles.


Journalist James Risen: will he be jailed for not revealing source?

While President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have asked law enforcement in Ferguson to not jail reporters for doing their jobs, press advocates are asking the administration and the Justice Department to stop legal action against a New York Times national security correspondent for doing his.

As Ashley Westerman reports from Washington, DC, the years-long case of James Risen has had a chilling effect on journalists and whistleblowers.

Iraq: ISIS beheads U.S. reporter; US strategy remains unchanged

US military action in Iraq continues after the brutal execution of GlobalPost reporter James Foley this week. The militant group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, said that Foley was killed in retribution for US airstrikes on their fighters in northern Iraq, and they threatened to kill another hostage, US journalist Steven Sotloff. The Islamist insurgents control parts of north-eastern Syria and have captured large swaths of northern and eastern Iraq. According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, US strategy in Iraq remains unchanged.

“Our objectives remain clear and limited. To protect American citizens and facilities, to provide assistance to Iraqi fores as they confront ISIL, and to join with international partners to address the humanitarian crisis.”

FSRN correspondent Hermione Gee joins us from Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Hermione, given the US position that military action in Iraq will remain limited – how are other countries in the region responding?

Gaza fighting resumes; medical infrastructure nears collapse

Fighting resumed between Israel and Hamas this week in the Gaza Strip. Rocket fire and airstrikes early in the week were followed by targeted assassinations of Hamas leadership, including an attempt on military chief Mohammed Deif that killed his wife and infant son. And according to the Ma’an News Agency, in the past two days Hamas has executed as many as 18 people suspected of collaborating with Israel.

As Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continue, the effects of the past six weeks of shelling and bombing have left the coastal territory’s medical infrastructure in shambles. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

Protesters in San Fracisco Bay Area blocked an Israeli ship from offloading much of its cargo this week at the Port of Oakland. Find our report here.

War crimes in northeastern Nigeria: Amnesty International

Fighting in northeastern Nigeria between Boko Haram militants and the country’s armed forces has displaced about 400 thousand people this year alone. That’s according to the most recent estimate from Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, current through the end of July.

The fighting began five years ago, but there’s been a sharp increase in the violence this year, as well as in the number of reports of human rights abuses.

Now, Amnesty International is accusing both sides of the conflict of committing war crimes and has released a series of videos to back up the claims. One video documents the extra-judicial executions of multiple prisoners committed by men in Nigerian military uniforms. Another shows a process known as “screening” in which male residents of an area are rounded up on suspicion of belonging to Boko Haram. A third shows the aftermath of a Boko Haram attack on a village that killed nearly 100 local people.

As displaced villagers flee the conflict zone, they bring along stories of what they’ve survived. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.


(Photo Credit: Georg Thomas via Flickr, Music Credit:  Dave Imbernön via Jamendo; both under Creative Commons)

New Post has been published on FSRN

New Post has been published on http://fsrn.org/2014/08/gazas-medical-infrastructure-on-the-verge-of-collapse/

Gaza’s medical infrastructure on the verge of collapse

Fighting resumed between Israel and Hamas this week in the Gaza Strip.  Rocket fire and airstrikes early in the week were followed by targeted assassinations of Hamas leadership, including an attempt on military chief Mohammed Deif that killed his wife and infant son. And according to the Ma’an News Agency, in the past two days Hamas has executed as many as 18 people suspected of collaborating with Israel.

As Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continue, the effects of the past six weeks of shelling and bombing have left the coastal territory’s medical infrastructure in shambles. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari has more.

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Maha Alsheikh Khalil from the Shija’ya neighborhood of Gaza City turned eight years-old this week while receiving medical care at Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital. She suffers from a neck fracture and doctors here say that she needs an urgent referral in order to receive better care outside of Gaza.

Maha’s uncle, Abdelmo’ez Alsheikh Khalil, along with his children and wife tried to cheer her up for her birthday, but Maha is in mourning. “Her family was taking shelter under the staircase of their home, per the instructions given to the population by the civil defense service,” he told FSRN. “The entrance of the staircase was hit, causing causalities. Seven members of her family were killed instantly, including her mother and her two other sisters. Her mother was pregnant.”

Maha’s father and brother were lightly injured in the same attack.

Also at the Shifa hospital, Mohammad Wahdan, a 3-year-old child from Beit Hanoun, is awaiting a referral to an outside hospital. He suffers from burns to his face and a fractured skull after an Israeli missile struck a house where his family had sought refuge in the northern town of Jabalya. They had fled their own home during the offensive.

Mona Wahdan is Mohammad’s aunt. She is now taking care of him and his other wounded brother, Omar. “My brother’s home in Beit Hanoun was shelled, so they had to move to my other brother’s home, which was also shelled,” she said. “Then they were forced to move to the area’s Abu Hussain school. The school was shelled as well, forcing them again to leave to seek shelter elsewhere. They spent four days in another home before three drone missiles hit it, killing his mother, his uncle, his cousin’s wife and her daughter and injuring his father, his two other brothers and himself.” Wahdan added that Mohammed’s father’s leg was amputated and he is now receiving treatment at a hospital in Cairo.

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza says that Egypt, Jordan and Turkey are now treating a total of 450 people injured during the Israeli military offensive. Two hundred others are awaiting referral, including 40 children who are all currently laying on Gaza hospital beds.

Dr. Yehya Khadr, chief referral officer with the Gaza-based health ministry, says “Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and Spain have all offered treatment for the wounded, especially for the children. But for the time being, visa procedures are taking about two or three weeks. However the wounded, those needing urgent medical attention, cannot wait for two or three weeks.”

Travel authorization requires coordination with Israel and Embassy interviews are part of visa procedures.

According to the spokesperson of Gaza’s health ministry, Israeli fire during Operation Protective Shield damaged 17 hospitals, destroyed ten completely and forced the closure of 42 primary health care centers. Twenty-one medical professionals, including doctors and paramedics, were killed.

One of the hospitals destroyed in the offensive was the El Wafa hospital, Gaza’s only long-term rehabilitation center for the disabled.

Mustafa Albarghouthi is a West Bank-based key Palestinian political figure and head of the non-profit Medical Relief Committees. He has been in Gaza for the past two weeks. Albarghouthi notes that “because of the fact that for six weeks, the normal primary health care structure could not function and vaccination programs were not being conducted.” He adds the situation increases “the risk of infections and epidemics and it requires an enhancement of the provision normal care, as soon as possible, to people who have had postponed operations or postponed vaccination or postponed management of their health care and diseases.”

Palestinian ambulances were also affected by Israeli attacks. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza lost two of its crews and 12 ambulances were damaged, some of them irreparably.

Operation Protective Shield has been the most destructive of the three Israeli offensives in Gaza in the last eight years. It has so far claimed the lives of more than 2000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including hundreds of children. Another 10,000 were injured. As many as 2000 of them will require continued medical attention, according to Gaza-based health officials.

(Photo credit: Shadi Alqarra)