Posts Tagged ‘Campaign Against Arms Trade’

Private Eye on Israeli Atrocities against the Palestinians

November 14, 2021

I’ve probably said before that I’ve got mixed feelings about Private Eye. The magazine joined the rest of the media in howling that Corbyn was an evil Commie and an anti-Semite. On the other hand, it has itself published some excellent material exposing Israel and its horrific crimes against the indigenous Arabs. I found this article extensively describing them in it’s edition for 15th – 28th June 2018. Titled ‘Israel Watch’, the article runs

On 1 June, as the Campaign Against Arms Trade revealed the UK’s rapidly increasing exports to Israel, and Buckingham Palace announced Prince William’s forthcoming trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah, Razan Najar, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman volunteering for a medical team, was shot dead by Israeli Defence Force soldiers near the Israel-Gaza border. The UK may have sold them the bullet.

As the UK government continues its amoral pursuit of post-Brexit trade with anyone who’ll have us, it is to be hoped this is not why William is pressing palms. At least ministers can pretend that they will raise human rights abuses as the other side signs the cheques.

Yet Israel does more than shoot Palestinians it claims looked iffy through a rifle sight. It removes their moral status as bearers of rights, a crucial first stage in all historical abuses of peoples. Nowhere is this more evident than in its approach in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

No-derogable means no exceptions: not in times of war; not if you’re the head of the CIA; not if you’ve been watching 24 on Fox. Signatories to the declaration agree this, and are obliged to codify it in law. On 14 December 1978, signing the Declaration for Israel, Yehudi Zvi Blum told the UN that the principles enshrined in it were given to the world by the Jewish nation 3,0000 years ago as “the equality and brotherhood of man, the intrinsic dignity and value of the human being and the ideals of social justice”. Yet Israeli law contains no specific criminalisation of torture.

Until 1999 the Israeli Security Agency, ISA, relied on a 1987 state commission which suggested that “psychological pressure” and “moderate physical pressure” were permissible “to prevent terrorism”. Their methods went far beyond any reasonable interpretation of these terms, and in 1999, Israel’s high court declared torture in interrogation illegal – except, crucially, for agents investigating “ticking bomb” cases. Such ticking is, of course, in the ear of the beholder.

The US senate’s own report on black-site torture revealed that, despite claims regarding “ticking bombs”, such torture delivered no useful intelligence. Evidence shows that while torture may persuade people to do things they don’t wan to do, they are only likely to tell you what you want to hear.

Israeli human rights groups, based on hundreds of affidavits from interrogated Palestinians, suggest that ISA uses torture in interrogation, including beatings, kicking, sleep deprivation, stress positioning, sexual abuse, painful shackling, assault with rifle butts, mock executions and threats against family members. Such treatment is described by the state as “special measures”, in tones reminiscent of “enhanced interrogation”. Not a single criminal investigation has been launched into a complaint against an ISA Interrogator.

Israel claims that UN conventions do not apply to Palestinians under occupation. It’s a steep slope, when you exclude the people of your choice from universal human rights. Prince William tread carefully, lest he slip.”

I’ll make it clear before I start that I despise and condemn terrorism by anyone. Furthermore, I don’t doubt for a single second that Israel isn’t unusual in it use of torture against terrorists and the minorities it oppresses. China and indeed the neighbouring Arab states do exactly the same. However, Israel and its supporters over here have a campaign to smear anyone revealing Israeli torture and atrocities against the Palestinians as an evil, genocidal anti-Semite. It’s been used against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, many of whom are decent, self-respecting Jewish peeps. Peeps, who have often lost loved ones to the Holocaust and suffered real anti-Semitic abuse and assault. And Starmer is continuing this campaign of vilification and purges.

The Israeli state doesn’t just use such interrogation techniques against adult. It also uses them against children. And many of the Jews that attack and criticise Israel for its human rights abuses are motivated by their reading and observance of the Torah and the Hebrew Bible, which Blum declared was behind Israel’s signing of the Declaration of the Human Rights. Other, secular Jews are motivated by the values of liberal Jewish culture in which they grew up. As for the Israeli human rights groups criticising the Israeli state, Netanyahu’s vile regime passed, or tried to pass legislation silencing groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. The last is a group of Israeli ex-servicemen and -women, who tell the stories of atrocities they have witnessed and in which they participated. There were polls a few years ago showing that the majority of Israeli respondents wanted such organisations and their members stripped of their citizenship.

This is the state that Keef Stalin supports ‘100 per cent’, and whose critics within the Labour party he is determined to silence and expel. Revolting!

MoD Records Show Britain Training Repressive States

August 30, 2020

There was a very interesting piece by Cahal Milmo in yesterday’s edition of the I, for Saturday, 29th August 2020. The MoD has released a series of papers in response to a question in parliament, showing that the British armed forces are training those of 17 states guilty of human rights violations. The article, ‘Britain trains soldiers for repressive regimes’ runs

The British military has provided training to the armed forces of a succession of repressive regimes from Belarus to Bahrain, according to official records.

A list of countries receiving training from UK armed forces since 2018 includes 17 nations formally designated by the British government as “human rights priority countries”, where there is particular concern about repression or other abuses. 

The training ranges from instruction on piloting state-of-the-art fast jets for allies such as Saudi Arabia to officer training for China.

In Belarus, where the authorities have this month been condemned for a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and armed forces have been placed on a state of high alert, Britain provided an advanced command course for senior officers.

The training,k detailed in records released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) following a parliamentary question, drew condemnation from campaigners who said it put Britain at risk of becoming “complicit” in gross breaches of human rights.

Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “Many of these armies have appalling human rights records and have been linked to brutal oppression as well as international aggression.

“By training and collaborating with despots, dictatorships and human rights abusers, the UK risks making itself complicit in the abuses that are being inflicted.” The group said it wanted to see an investigation into precisely which military forces the UK had given training to and whether they had been subsequently linked to repressive actions or other breaches of basic liberties.

However, the defence ministry insisted that all of its training abroad emphasised the observation of human rights protections.

A spokesman for the MoD said: “Every defence relationship is taken on a case-by-case basis. Any defence engagement is designed to educate where necessary on best practice and compliance with international humanitarian law.”

The figures suggest that more than half of the 30 countries on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s human rights priority list have received training assistance from British forces. They include Uzbekistan, Sir Lanka, Bahrain, Egypt and Pakistan.

I’m not surprised by any of this. We already sell armaments to vicious, repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia. Britain has also used private mercenary companies as a method of unofficially sending military assistance to repressive regimes, such as Keenie Meenie Services, (KMS), founded by retired Brigadier Mike Wingate Gray, a friend of Maggie Thatcher, and whose son Arthur is a mate of princes William and Harry. Among other nasty regimes, KMS has provided troops for Sri Lanka, the Nicaraguan Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, as well as Sultan Qaboos of Oman. On the other hand, they don’t seem to have provided any assistance to the Khmer Rouge during the 1980s. This was probably done by the SAS. See ‘Profiting from War’, John Newsinger’s review of Phil Miller’s Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes (London: Pluto Press 2020) in Lobster 79, Summer 2020 . See https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster79/lob79-keenie-meenie-review.pdf

I’ve no doubt that the training given by the official British armed forces does stress the observance of human rights. However, this still does not absolve us of training the troops of brutally oppressive regimes, which those providing the assistance must know will ignore anything they are taught about observing human rights.

The mercenaries, however, are rather different. They don’t just providing training, but have actually participated in atrocities. During the proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the head of the CIA’s Afghan Task Force declared that Thatcher was to the right of Attila the Hun and remarked on the lack of any legal restraint on MI6. Miller’s book quotes him as saying that they had a willingness to do jobs he wouldn’t touch. This comes from a senior figure in the organisation that helped overthrow Salvador Allende in Chile and install the Fascist dictatorship of General Pinochet.

Britain has spent too long training and providing guns and troops to the world’s thugs and butchers. It’s long past time we stopped. But the last time anyone suggested we should have an ethical foreign policy was Robin Cook under Tony Blair. Which after the Iraq invasion sounds like a very sick joke.