Posts Tagged ‘torture’
I thought I’d flag up a story in The Times newspaper yesterday that highlights how far the rights of Afghan women have slipped down the agenda in Afghanistan. One of the justifications for going to war in 2001 was to “free the Afghan women” from the “barbaric” Taliban. Despite this pledge, little has changed for women in the 10 years since the US-led invasion.
The Times’ story is about how the European Union banned a film it commissioned on the rights of Afghan women. The censored film documents the cases of a number of Afghan women jailed for “moral crimes”. These “crimes” are usually committed by women who try to run away from their homes because they’ve suffered horrific torture and abuse at the hands of their husbands or male relatives.
One of the women featured in the film, Gulnaz, was raped and impregnated by a relative. She reported her rape to the police, who promptly locked her in jail for committing adultery. One and a half years later Gulnaz is still in jail, although she will soon be released because she has agreed to marry the rapist (a condition set by the judge).
Instead of publicising the suffering of women locked up for moral crimes the EU decided to prevent the film from seeing the light of day. Read the Times’s story here.
The Times followed this story with another today. The paper quoted Gulnaz’s rapist, who said that the EU had “done a good thing” by banning the film. The rights of women have slipped so far down the agenda in Afghanistan that we now have convicted rapists thanking the EU for concealing the suffering of women here.
As one senior rights activist told me: “It’s all about withdrawing the troops now. That’s the main focus for the foreigners here. Everything else, especially the rights of women, has pretty much been forgotten”.
There’s now a petition calling for the immediate release of Gulnaz. It has already attracted more than 5,000 signatures and will be sent to President Hamid Karzai. Sign here http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/freegulnaz/
MI5 asked Colonel Muammar Gadaffi’s secret services for regular updates on what terrorist suspects were revealing under interrogation in Libyan prisons, where torture was routine.
The security service also agreed to trade information with Libyan spymasters on 50 British-based Libyans judged to be a threat to Gadaffi’s regime.
The disclosures come from intelligence documents left lying around in the ruins of the British embassy in Tripoli for anyone to find.
They include an MI5 paper marked “UK/Libya eyes only secret”, which shows that the service provided Gadaffi’s spies with a trove of intelligence about Libyan dissidents in London, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester.
Other documents seen by The Sunday Times in the abandoned offices of British and Libyan officials reveal that:
*The Ministry of Defence invited the dictator’s sons Saadi and Khamis Gadaffi, whose forces have massacred civilians during Libya’s revolution, to a combat display at SAS headquarters and a dinner at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Mayfair.
*Tony Blair helped another son, Saif Gadaffi, with his PhD thesis, beginning a personal letter with the words “Dear Engineer Saif”.
*The Foreign Office planned to use Prince Andrew in a secret strategy to secure the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, from prison in Scotland and offset the risk of retaliation if he died in jail. In fact, Megrahi was released anyway.
The cache of documents shows how close the governments of both Blair and Gordon Brown were to a brutal regime that was overthrown last month when pro-democracy rebels seized Tripoli.
Nowhere is this closeness more evident than in the intelligence sphere. The MI5 paper for Gadaffi’s security services contains detailed information about members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a militant dissident outfit with cells in Britain.
The document, prepared ahead of an MI5 visit to Tripoli in 2005, formally requested that Libyan intelligence should provide access to detainees held by secret police and to “timely debriefs” of interrogations.
It added: “The more timely [the] information the better … Such intelligence is most valuable when it is current. It is notable that LIFG members in the UK become aware of the detention of members overseas within a relatively short period.” Read the rest of this entry »
By Miles Amoore and David Leppard
THE British Army is facing allegations that at least 10 Taliban suspects were beaten and given electric shocks after being handed over to local security forces in Afghanistan.
The Afghan detainees have told British investigators that they were also whipped with cables and suffered sleep deprivation in prisons in Kabul and Sangin in the southern province of Helmand.
The jails are run by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), which has a reputation for mistreating prisoners handed over to it by western forces.
The men are among several hundred suspected Taliban insurgents captured by British troops on the battlefield since 2002.
Their case, which will be heard by the High Court next month, is the latest blow to ministers already hit by claims that MI5 and MI6 colluded in the torture of up to 25 British men caught up in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” programme for terror suspects.
The new development is particularly sensitive because Britain’s strategy in Afghanistan is focused on winning the hearts and minds of the population.
British forces are not accused of direct involvement in the alleged mistreatment. However, transferring a prisoner into the hands of another state when there is a real risk that they could be tortured or mistreated is a direct breach of the Geneva conventions. British officers could therefore face possible war crime charges if the claims can be proven. Read the rest of this entry »