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Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

Attempt to jam Russian satellites carried out from Western Ukraine

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 15, 2014

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RT: An attempted radio-electronic attack on Russian television satellites from the territory of Western Ukraine has been recorded by the Ministry of Communications. It comes days after Ukraine blocked Russian TV channels, a move criticized by the OSCE.

The ministry noted that “people who make such decisions” to attack Russian satellites that retransmit TV signals, “should think about the consequences,” Ria reports. The ministry did not share any details of the attack. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malala Yousafzai up for Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 2, 2013

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Malala YousafzaiMalala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot for promoting girls’ education, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

The 15-year-old was shot by a Taliban gunman at point blank range as she travelled on a bus to school on October 9, targeted for promoting girls’ education.

She has since become an internationally recognised symbol of opposition to the Taliban’s drive to deny women education, and against religious extremism in a country where women’s rights are often flouted.

“A prize to Malala would not only be timely and fitting with a line of awards to champions of human rights and democracy, but also … would set both children and education on the peace and conflict agenda,” said Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo.

Others known to have been nominated are human rights activists whose names have been mentioned in previous years, including Belarussian human rights activist Ales Belyatski – currently behind bars – and Russia’s Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

Belarus, which former US President George W. Bush’s administration had branded as the “the last dictatorship in Europe”, is governed by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has cracked down even further on opponents of late, rights groups charge. Read the rest of this entry »

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Runner-Up: Malala Yousafzai, the Fighter

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 24, 2012

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Ayesha Mir didn’t go to school on Tuesday, Nov. 27, the day after a security guard found a shrapnel-packed bomb under her family’s car. The 17-year-old Pakistani girl assumed, as did most people who learned about the bomb, that it was intended for her father, the television news presenter Hamid Mir, who often takes on the Taliban in his nightly news broadcasts. Traumatized by the near miss, Ayesha spent most of the day curled up in a corner of her couch, unsure whom to be angrier with: the would-be assassins or her father for putting himself in danger. She desperately wanted someone to help her make sense of things.

At around 10:30 p.m., she got her wish. Ayesha’s father had just come home from work, and he handed her his BlackBerry. “She wants to speak to you,” he said. The voice on the phone was weak and cracked, but it still carried the confidence that Ayesha and millions of other Pakistanis had come to know through several high-profile speeches and TV appearances. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nobel Prize: A tale of ignoble peace laureates

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 11, 2012

One man introduced indefinite detention and expanded the deadly global drone war. Another was the architect of the deliberate mass killing of civilian populations in Indochina. What do they have in common? Both are Nobel Peace laureates.

Gandhi never got one. Al Gore did. In one of the stranger ironies befitting of both Kafka and Orwell, sometimes the makers of permanent war are awarded for bringing temporary peace. Sometimes they don’t even get that far.

With the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize set to be announced in Oslo, Norway on Friday, the shadow of Barack Obama still looms large. In 2009, the committee awarded the current US president “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Nominations for the award are due by February 1, meaning Obama had served as America’s executive for less than two weeks when the Norwegian Nobel Committee selected him. Perhaps it was wishful thinking.

Since then, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, making it legal to indefinitely detain US citizens. There are also the deadly drone wars in Yemen and Pakistan, the war waged in Libya, the Afghan surge and a secret “kill list” revealed this year by The New York Times, which grants a select few American officials the option to mark perceived national security threats – foreign citizens or otherwise – for assassination. Ironic, yes, but they never could have known.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Not so noble: EU’s Peace Prize win sparks debate over legitimacy

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 11, 2012

The European Union’s presidents have received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the 27-member group. However, growing numbers of critics have pointed to the EU’s economic and foreign policy failures, arguing the prize is undeserved.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz have accepted the 930,000-euro ($1.2 million) award on behalf of the EU.

In his acceptance speech, Van Rompuy praised postwar leaders in France and Germany who created the EU by uniting their economic interests: “The EU’s secret weapon – an unrivalled way of binding our interests so tightly that war becomes impossible.”

The French and German representatives at the ceremony – President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel, respectively – greeted the award with standing ovations.

But critics argued the award was an inappropriate honor. Six EU leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, did not attend the event. The initial news that the European Union won the 2012 Peace Prize sparked heated debate over whether the award was being discredited, a debate that also raged after US President Barack Obama’s win in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

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Assange to RT: Entire nations intercepted online, key turned to totalitarian rule

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 3, 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says all the necessary physical infrastructure for absolute totalitarianism through the internet is ready. He told RT that the question now is whether the turnkey process that already started will go all the way.

RT: So you’ve written this book ‘Cypherpunks. Freedom and the Future of the Internet’ based on one of the programs that you’ve made for RT. In it, you say that the internet can enslave us. I don’t really get that, because the internet it’s a thing, it’s a soulless thing. Who are the actual enslavers behind it?

Julian Assange: The people who control the interception of the internet and, to some degree also, physically control the big data warehouses and the international fiber-optic lines. We all think of the internet as some kind of Platonic Realm where we can throw out ideas and communications and web pages and books and they exist somewhere out there. Actually, they exist on web servers in New York or Nairobi or Beijing, and information comes to us through satellite connections or through fiber-optic cables.

So whoever physically controls this controls the realm of our ideas and communications. And whoever is able to sit on those communications channels, can intercept entire nations, and that’s the new game in town, as far as state spying is concerned – intercepting entire nations, not individuals.

‘intercepting entire nations, not individuals’ Read the rest of this entry »

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Google takes action to support open Internet

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 23, 2012

An upcoming UN-organized conference on global communications aims to hammer out a treaty to safeguard “the free flow of information around the world.” Google is fighting back, saying the treaty threatens the “free and open Internet.”

Representatives from UN member-states will gather in Dubai from December 3 through 14 with the explicit aim of working out a new universal information and communication treaty that would regulate the Internet.

The conference, organized by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) has reignited a fierce debate over who should control the Web.

Google has remained unequivocal in its stance that the closed-door meeting a power grab aimed at ending public control of the Internet and strangling free speech:

“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice,” Google said on its ‘Take Action’ advocacy website.

Google, which has consistently taken a self-regulatory approach to the Internet, called the Dubai conference the“wrong place” to make decisions on the future of the Internet.

The Internet giant argued that the 42 countries set to decide the future of the Net have already moved to censor it, and that the number of regulations is only growing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Assad: Erdogan thinks he’s Caliph, new sultan of the Ottoman (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 9, 2012

Bashar Assad speaking with RT′s Sophie Shevardnadze
Bashar Assad speaking with RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze

In an exclusive interview with RT, President Bashar Assad said that the conflict in Syria is not a civil war, but proxy terrorism by Syrians and foreign fighters. He also accused the Turkish PM of eyeing Syria with imperial ambitions.

Assad told RT that the West creates scapegoats as enemies – from communism, to Islam, to Saddam Hussein. He accused Western countries of aiming to turn him into their next enemy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Assange to UN: ‘It is time for the US to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks’ (VIDEO)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 28, 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called on the United States to move from words to actions, and put an end to its persecution of WikiLeaks, its people and its sources. He made the statement during an address to a panel of UN delegates.

Addressing the representatives of the United Nations’ member countries, the WikiLeaks founder spoke of the difference between words and actions, praising US President Barack Obama for his words.

“We commend and agree with the words that peace can be achieved… But the time for words has run out. It is time for the US to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks, our people and our sources.”

Assange was highly critical of US involvement in the Arab Spring, denouncing Obama as audacious for exploiting it. He added that it is “disrespectful of the dead” to claim that the US has supported forces of change. Read the rest of this entry »

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Live on RT: Assange to address UN on human rights

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 26, 2012

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. (AFP Photo / Miguel Medina)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. (AFP Photo / Miguel Medina)

Julian Assange will address permanent representatives to the UN General Assembly at a high-level talk on the legal and ethical legitimacy of diplomatic asylum. RT has exclusive rights to broadcast the event live from the UN headquarters in New York.

Among those joining Assange for the panel discussion at the 67th General Assembly Debate on Wednesday will be Ricardo Patino, Foreign Affairs Minister of Ecuador, and Baher Azmy, the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Ecuador’s sponsorship of the event is linked to their mid-August decision to grant Assange political asylum, a move that sparked worldwide debate over the legal and human rights dimensions of diplomatic asylum.

Assange took shelter in Ecuador’s London embassy in June after losing his court battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault. The WikiLeaks founder fears he will be extradited to the US after arriving in Sweden for his role in leaking thousands of secret US diplomatic and military cables. Washington and Stockholm denied Assange’s allegations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hundreds in Ecuador rally in support of Assange (PHOTOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 21, 2012

Sympathizers of Wikileaks founder Australian Julian Assange take part in a demonstration in support of his asylum request, at the Independence square in Quito on August 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Rodrigo Buendia)

Sympathizers of Wikileaks founder Australian Julian Assange take part in a demonstration in support of his asylum request, at the Independence square in Quito on August 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Rodrigo Buendia)

Social activists and others from around Ecuador have gathered in the center of Quito to express support for their government’s decision to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Hundreds of demonstrators rallied on the Ecuadorian capital’s Plaza Grande, holding placards reading “Without true freedom of expression there no sovereignty,” and “Viva freedom of expression. Support Julian Assange.”

Last week, the Ecuadorian government announced it would grant the world-famous whistleblower political asylum. The decision came almost two months after Assange came to the country’s London embassy seeking protection.

“I think this government has stressed with its courageous decision to give diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange that for us it is a symbol of the freedom of expression on the international level, which has broken the cliché that one cannot touch the powerful. In this sense I believe that there is a need to show support and condemn the threats by the United Kingdom to try to raid our diplomatic mission there, in London,” said lawmaker Pedro de La Cruz, according to El Telegrafo daily.

Meanwhile, members of Revolutionary Left Movement marched in support of Ecuador’s sovereignty to the British Consulate General in the country’s biggest city, Guayaquil.

Sympathizers of Wikileaks founder Australian Julian Assange take part in a demonstration in support of his asylum request, at the Independence square in Quito on August 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Rodrigo Buendia)
Sympathizers of Wikileaks founder Australian Julian Assange take part in a demonstration in support of his asylum request, at the Independence square in Quito on August 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Rodrigo Buendia) Read the rest of this entry »

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US could put Assange to death if it gets him – former senior NSA official

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 10, 2012

If America gets its hands on the WikiLeaks founder, they may go as far as execute him, a known National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Andrews Drake told RT, adding that in the US, security has become a state religion.

An expert on electronic eavesdropping, Drake sacrificed his career to blow the whistle on perceived wrongdoings within the NSA. He was charged under the Espionage Act, though the charges were dropped only last year.

He told RT that in America’s ‘soft tyranny’, everyone is subject or suspect in terms of surveillance.

RT: What was the potential harm of the program that you challenged while working with the NSA?

Thomas Drake: There was a very large flagship program called Trailblazer that was designed to catapult the NSA into the twenty first century to deal with the vast amounts of data generated by the digital age. Given the massive fraud and abuse that the NSA had created with the Trailblazer program, as well as the super secret surveillance program, the NSA completely violated the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment. In particular, the stature called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was the first commandment at the NSA: you did violate Americans’ privacy without a warning, and if you did – there is a criminal penalty for doing so. And I found this out to my horror and shock, that shortly after 9/11, the NSA entered a secret agreement with the White House in which the NSA would become the executive agent for this secret surveillance program. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Stalin was like Facebook’: Viral ad sparks controversy

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 3, 2012

Poster inscription reads: "Stalin was like Twitter: he kept it brief." The image is part of a graduate project, commemorating victims of Stalinist repressions. Artwork by Nox-13

Poster inscription reads: “Stalin was like Twitter: he kept it brief.” The image is part of a graduate project, commemorating victims of Stalinist repressions. Artwork by Nox-13

“Stalin was like Facebook: he always wanted you to share information.” That is just one of the controversial posters aimed at showing the Internet generation the horrors of Stalin’s regime. Others compare him to Twitter and YouTube.

The posters, which were created for the Victims of Illegal Political Repressions Organization, use contemporary social platforms to illustrate to younger generations how much they have, and translate the awful reality of Soviet political repressions into a language they understand and can relate to.

The posters draw parallels between popular social networks and typical repressions of Stalinist times, and all provide historical details on this very dark period in Soviet history.

The Facebook poster describes how thousands of people regularly snitched on their neighbors, friends and relatives, filing reports with the NKVD or Secret Police. In the two years of the worst oppressions, from 1937 to 1938, the NKVD was flooded with so many reports, they physically couldn’t handle them.

A similar poster comparing the Soviet dictator to YouTube plays on the Russian words for “upload” and “send”, saying that Stalin let people get picked up and sent off. During the period of the Great Purge, known as Yezhovshchina in Russia (after the head of the Secret Police, Nikolay Yezhov), millions were sent off to labor camps and left to rot in Siberia. Their families were evaluated, and if deemed ‘capable of anti-Soviet actions’, they too were packed off to the camps, travelling for months in freight trains, like cattle.

The project started as a graduation work for communications studies student Ilya Tekhlikidi, who chose the Victims of Illegal Political Repressions Organization because of his own family history. His great-grandfather was executed by firing squad in 1937, and his great-grandmother and her children survived three labor camps. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Is Ecuador Julian Assange’s Choice for Asylum?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 20, 2012

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has appealed for asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. It’s a curious choice: under President Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s free speech record has been dismal.
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

DAN KITWOOD / GETTY IMAGES

Julian Assange, the controversial Australian founder of Wikileaks, walked into Ecuador‘s London embassy on Tuesday to request political asylum. He may have picked just the right kind of government to accept him.

The South American country in April 2011 became the only one to officially expel a U.S. ambassador over the scandal generated by the thousands of leaked diplomatic cables. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa—a populist firebrand whose thin-skinned response to the stolen cables’ detailing police corruption in Ecuador prompted U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges’ dismissal—has faced global criticism over his track record on free speech and could see in Assange just the character to help him restore some of his tarnished credentials.

(READ: Out of Ecuador—a U.S. ambassador bites the Wiki-dust.)

The UK’s top court last week refused Assange’s final appeal against being sent to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual harassment, which he claims are politically trumped up. “Death threats, economic boycott and the possibility of being handed over to the authorities of the United States by British, Swedish or Australian authorities have led me to seek asylum on Ecuadorean territory and protection to allow me to continue with my mission,” he said in a letter read to the media in Quito by Ricardo Patiño, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister. Assange says that he could face the death penalty in the U.S. for having published confidential government cables, along with thousands of Pentagon documents earlier. Patiño said that Ecuador hasn’t yet granted him asylum, but he may stay at the embassy until the Correa administration makes its decision. Last year, Quito fumed over the leaked cables, insisting their contents – which suggested that Correa had knowingly named an allegedly corrupt chief of police in order to be able to control him better – were completely untrue. Read the rest of this entry »

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Amnesty: EU does not value migrants’ lives

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 14, 2012

Migrants from North Africa arrive in the southern Italian island of Lampedusa March 7, 2011. (Reuters/Antonio Parrinello)

Migrants from North Africa arrive in the southern Italian island of Lampedusa March 7, 2011. (Reuters/Antonio Parrinello)

Europe cares about reinforcing its borders but not about human lives. The criticism comes from Amnesty International, which says in its report that European governments often endanger asylum-seekers by preventing them from reaching European shores.

The human rights group says its campaign is aimed at holding to account any European country that practises human rights violations in the way it enforces migration controls.

“Today, Europe is failing to promote and respect the rights of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees,” Amnesty alleges in a statement according to AP. “Hostility is widespread and mistreatment often goes unreported.” Read the rest of this entry »

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