— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for June, 2014

Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act

House Panel Adopts Turkey Churches Accountability Act, By Admin on June 26, 2014

 –Bill H.R. 4347, Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act–

“To require the Secretary of State to provide an annual report to Congress regarding United States Government efforts to survey and secure the return, protection, and restoration of stolen, confiscated, or otherwise unreturned Christian properties in the Republic of Turkey and in those areas currently occupied by the Turkish military in northern Cyprus”.

‘The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a powerful religious freedom measure this morning holding Turkey accountable for the return of thousands of stolen Christian holy sites and urging the immediate opening of the Halki Theological Seminary, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY) led the effort which received broad bipartisan support despite a last minute campaign led by pro-Turkey lobbyists to gut the measure. An amended version of H.R. 4347 was adopted by voice vote. “Americans of Armenian, Greek and Assyrian heritage—the descendants of those subjected to genocide by Ottoman Turkey from 1915-1923 and whose churches continue to be held captive by the Turkish Government—join with friends of all faiths in welcoming Committee passage of the Royce-Engel Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. “The adoption of this measure sends a strong signal to Ankara that it must stop its anti-Christian conduct and start coming to terms with its moral, material, and legal obligations to Armenians, Syriacs, Cypriots, Pontians, and other victims of Turkey’s still unpunished genocidal crimes.” Introduced in March of this year by Chairman Royce along with the panel’s Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY), H.R. 4347 would require that the U.S. Department of State formally report to Congress on an annual basis about the status of Turkey’s return of stolen Christian churches and properties in Turkey and occupied Cyprus. H.R. 4347 builds on a measure (H.Res.306), spearheaded by Chairman Royce and then House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (D-CA), which was overwhelmingly adopted by the House of Representatives on December 13, 2011. That resolution set the groundwork for H.R.4347 by calling upon the government of Turkey to honor its international obligations to return confiscated Christian church properties and to fully respect the rights of Christians to practice their faiths. In the days leading up to the vote, the ANCA worked closely with Armenian American religious leaders and Hellenic American groups including the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA), American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and American Hellenic Council (AHC) in securing Committee passage of the measure’.

The Big Picture (16-20 June 2014)

The Big Picture (16-20 June 2014)

Saudi Arabia’s Secret Uprising

‘In scenes reminiscent of Libya, Egypt and Bahrain, masked protesters fill the streets, fling rocks and chant “martyrdom is better than oppression” as police bullets fly. In the Shia-dominated Eastern region of Qatif, there has been growing resentment that despite “standing on top of oil fields that feed the world”, local communities suffer poverty, sectarian discrimination and no political freedom. Figureheads of the protests have been added to government wanted lists, been arrested and several have been killed in dubious circumstances. Saudi filmmaker Safa Al Ahmad risks arrest and worse to get inside this troubled region. In secret meetings protesters share their accounts of the growing state violence against them and their families. One leader’s disabled sister tells of how security forces “came while I was sleeping and threatened me with a gun”. The movement insists it is nonetheless growing, but a few incidences of violence by protesters have alienated many locals and given the state justification for their crackdown. After protesters fire on security forces, police funerals are broadcast on public television and the rioters are officially labelled “terrorists”. Both sides are now entrenched. “It is very dangerous for the future. The state just want to show the iron fist. The only reaction is apathy or violence”‘.

Redacted Tonight [02]: Wars for Oil, the Hanford Nuclear Chaos, and Solar Freakin’ Roadways

‘In this episode, Lee Camp breaks down an exclusive video showing David Petraeus’s introduction as a war criminal, while activist group 18 Million Rising introduces GAP to fair labor practices. Sam Sacks exposes himself – to the nuclear mess at the Hanford site, while Congress avoids cleaning up the mess causing climate change and talks space aliens instead. Jazzy the orca whale brings us a different take on Blackfish, the Air Force brings us a gay blast from the past, Solar Freakin’ Roadways brings bisolar disorder to John F. O’Donnell, and more! (6 June 2014)’.

C.A.R. or Genocidal Expectations

In dramatic language, CNN’s very own global brand Amapour plugs the photographs of the IRC’s Peter Birro, not forgetting to invoke the spectre of Ruanda . . .

For its part, Human Rights Watch posted this on its website: “Government authorities in [the] Central African Republic and international peacekeepers should allow Muslim residents to seek protection in neighboring countries. Many Muslim residents living in a few heavily guarded areas endure unsustainable, life-threatening conditions and say they want to leave. The majority of the Muslims remaining in the western part of the country are ethnic Peuhl nomads living in small enclaves – such as in Boda, Carnot, and Yaloké – that are heavily guarded by African Union (MISCA) peacekeepers and French (Sangaris) troops. Because of persistent threats against the Peuhl, peacekeepers drastically restrict the residents’ movements”.[1] So, what is happening there in the heart of Africa???

Writing on the digital forum of the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Kujenga Amani (Swahili for “building peace”) and providing some context and historical insight, Dr Angela Meyer says that “[o]n January 10, 2014, former rebel leader Michel Djotodia officially stepped down after ten months as interim president of the Central African Republic (CAR) following his March 2013 putsch against François Bozizé. This development hopefully marks the end of the series of turbulent and violent events that have put the CAR through one of its biggest crises since it gained its independence in 1960. Djotodia was the head of a coalition of rebel movements, which, under the name of Séléka, marched on the CAR’s capital of Bangui in December 2012. Although, initially, the holding of a conference in Libreville in January 2013 held prospects of averting the threat, the signing of a peace agreement between the government and the rebels under the aegis of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) brought only a temporary and relative calming of the tensions. In February 2013, frustration over some of the agreement’s provisions and reluctance to respect them, as well as a split developing within the Séléka coalition between those taking part in and supporting the new transition government and those who felt left out, led to a new series of attacks by Séléka rebels and, eventually, the seizing of the capital and the toppling of Bozizé. On March 25, Séléka leader Djotodia proclaimed himself the new president of the CAR and in April [2013] was confirmed in this position, as the sole candidate, by the newly established National Transition Council. The country nevertheless remained caught in an escalating spiral of violence. While the largely heterogeneous Séléka coalition disintegrated and splintered under the heavy weight of internal power struggles, a self-defense militia emerged within the country. Mostly formed by Christians openly opposed to the predominantly Muslim ex-Séléka combatants, clashes between these groups drove the country deeper into chaos. In the CAR’s history, tensions between religious groups have so far never played a major role. However, in recent years, the politicization of religion in the wider region has become a critical challenge and fuel for the growing fragmentation of the CAR society. As Djotodia—a Muslim himself—proved unable to control and stabilize the country and violence against the population by ex-Séléka members continued, religion rapidly became a central issue in the conflict. This trend has been particularly strong among the population in and around the capital. Séléka has increasingly been perceived as a foreign, mainly Muslim element, including soldiers and combatants of Sudanese and Chadian origin. On December 5, 2013, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2127, calling for the deployment of a support mission led by the African Union (AU) and backed by French forces, to ensure the implementation of the Libreville Agreement and promote the restoration of security and stability in the country. At an extraordinary summit of heads of ECCAS member states, Djotodia and his prime minister, Nicolas Tiangaye, finally agreed to resign from their posts, opening the way for yet another transitional phase in the country’s history—led, for the first time, by a woman, Catherine Samba Panza”.[2]

The news agency Agence France-Presse or AFP, a few days ago, reported that a “recent surge in violence in the Central African capital of Bangui was caused by ‘agitators’ trying to ‘manipulate the youth for purely political reasons’, President Catherine Samba Panza said on Sunday [, 1 June 2014]. The leader made the comments after a visit to a local hospital where victims were recovering from a deadly attack on a church earlier in the week that sparked mass protests. A total of 17 people were killed in the attack on Notre-Dame de Fatima church, which the president has previously described as a ‘terrorist act’. Samba Panza said recent improvements in the security situation ‘do not please everybody. They are agitators who underhandedly try to manipulate, to use the youth for purely political reasons’, she said. [Adding that] ‘investigations are underway. As soon as we have proven facts, I will be able to speak in a more precise manner’. Her comments mirrored those of her prime minister, Andre Nzapayeke, who said on Thursday [, 29 May 2014] that recent attacks were part of ‘a planned conspiracy’ by ‘politicians very close to power’, including people close to his own cabinet and the presidential office”.[3]

 

[1] “Central African Republic: Let Muslims Seek Safety” Human Rights Watch (05 June 2014). http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/06/05/central-african-republic-let-muslims-seek-safety.

[2] Angela Meyer, “The Recent Conflict in the Central African Republic: Which Way Out of the Crisis?” Kujenga Amani (31 Jan 2014). http://forums.ssrc.org/kujenga-amani/2014/01/31/the-recent-conflict-in-the-central-african-republic-which-way-out-of-the-crisis/#.U5BXIpNrP4g.

[3] “Central African president sees political conspiracy in attacks” AFP (01 June 2014). http://news.yahoo.com/central-african-president-sees-political-conspiracy-attacks-173202645.html.

The Snowden Leaks: Year One

‘The5th June 2014 is the first anniversary of the first ever story published on the NSA documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. And to mark this auspicious occasion, 200 websites, including Reddit, Imgur, Greenpeace and Amnesty, are taking part in a protest against mass surveillance. Alongside this, ordinary web users are being called upon to take part in a “thunderclap” action where everyone posts the same message across Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr all at the same time (4 June 2014)’.

On RT’s Op-Edge, Rick Falkvinge writes that a “year has passed since Edward Snowden started telling us what really was going on in the world. Since that date, various holders of power have been struggling – without success – to reclaim the control of the narrative, the control of the news flow. But in the age of the net, the power of narrative rests squarely with the many, rather than with the elite. People have become aware of mass surveillance, even if they haven’t become aware of its full consequences yet. But the story is out. The proverbial cat isn’t just out of the bag, but has left the entire city and is halfway across the continent. This hasn’t prevented an ivory tower establishment from playing “no see, no hear, no speak” monkey games, pretending Snowden does not exist and that people don’t already know what we know. Carl Bildt, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, [for example, ] has been one of the strongest proponents of NSA-style mass surveillance and trying to “control” the net – completely ignoring the fact that this necessarily means controlling (effectively eliminating) free speech. He’s even gone on record stating that mass surveillance doesn’t violate human rights because it is covert: as if security services don’t violate people when doing so doesn’t leave traces”.[1]

Whereas, TIME‘s P. Nash Jenkins muses that a “year ago, the classified documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden went public. It’s been a less-than-tranquil 12 months for those who feel personally impacted by the leak: for the American people who view the disclosed surveillance programs as a violation of individual freedoms, for the U.S. government that has spent much of its time both condemning Snowden’s actions and attempting to justify its own, and for those vigilantes of personal liberties who have flocked to the Internet to champion Snowden as a patron saint of their cause. On June 5, a year from when the Washington Post and the Guardian broke the story that would win them a Pulitzer, the digital-rights-advocacy group Fight for the Future will commemorate the anniversary by leading a campaign against mass government surveillance that will urge the use of encryption tools to keep Internet users protected online. The organization is calling the initiative Reset the Net, and it’s gaining momentum through the support of some vocal online communities — Anonymous, Reddit — and, via a statement presumably written from his place of asylum in Russia, Snowden himself . . . On Thursday, [5 June, ] more than 200 websites, including such Internet figureheads as Google and Imgur, will display a “splash screen” — in this case, sort of a PSA pop-up — that’ll offer their visitors “tips on ensuring web privacy” and a download link for encryption software directly from Fight for the Future’s website, Russian news agency RT reports. In a blog post on Tuesday [, 3 June], Google announced its support for the push for more secure Internet use, especially in email services”.[2]

[1] Rick Falkvinge, “Orwell or liberty: One year later, holders of power still ignore Snowden” RT (05 June 2014). http://rt.com/op-edge/163632-snowden-mass-surveillance-sweden/.

[2] P. Nash Jenkins, “A Year After the Snowden Leaks, the Online Community Is Still Fuming” TIME (05 June 2014). http://time.com/2825029/a-year-after-the-snowden-leaks-the-online-community-is-still-fuming/.