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Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

Panic in the Streets of London: PM statement following London terror attack: 4 June 2017

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Following the rapid police response of eight minutes on Saturday night, the PM came out the next day to tell the world that Britain’s had enough and that Mrs Merkel’s harsh words of yesteryear are now more valid than ever. But, she started off quite circumspect: “Last night, our country fell victim to a brutal terrorist attack once again. As a result I have just chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee and I want to update you with the latest information about the attack. Shortly before 10:10 yesterday evening, the Metropolitan Police received reports that a white van had struck pedestrians on London Bridge. It continued to drive from London Bridge to Borough Market, where 3 terrorists left the van and attacked innocent and unarmed civilians with blades and knives. All 3 were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests, but the police have established that this clothing was fake and worn only to spread panic and fear. As so often in such serious situations, the police responded with great courage and great speed. Armed officers from the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police arrived at Borough Market within moments, and shot and killed the 3 suspects. The terrorists were confronted and shot by armed officers within 8 minutes of the police receiving the first emergency call. Seven people have died as a result of the attack, in addition to the 3 suspects shot dead by the police. Forty-eight people are being treated in several hospitals across London. Many have life-threatening conditions. On behalf of the people of London, and on behalf of the whole country, I want to thank and pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the police and the emergency services – and the courage of members of the public who defended themselves and others from the attackers. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their friends, families and loved ones. This is, as we all know, the third terrorist attack Britain has experienced in the last 3 months. In March, a similar attack took place, just around the corner on Westminster Bridge. Two weeks ago, the Manchester Arena was attacked by a suicide bomber. And now London has been struck once more”.(1)

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In the next instance May gave a brief overview of terror attack to then outline the UK government’s response to the threat of “Radical Islamic or Islamist terrorism”, as the Drumpf has now named the enemy. In factm she also maneged to make some pretty value-laded statements: “In terms of their planning and execution, the recent attacks are not connected. But we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face, as terrorism breeds terrorism, and perpetrators are inspired to attack not only on the basis of carefully-constructed plots after years of planning and training – and not even as lone attackers radicalised online – but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack. We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change, and they need to change in 4 important ways. First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism. It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth. Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skilful its leaders and practitioners. It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate. Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet – and the big companies that provide internet-based services – provide. We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online. Third, while we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world. Yes, that means taking military action to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home. While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out – across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism – and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities but as one truly United Kingdom. Fourth, we have a robust counter-terrorism strategy that has proved successful over many years. But as the nature of the threat we face becomes more complex, more fragmented, more hidden, especially online, the strategy needs to keep up. So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need. And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do”.(2)

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May ends her speech on a programmatic note, arguably even somewhat invoking the spirit of Winston Churchill: “Since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism, our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public. But it is time to say enough is enough. Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values. But when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change . . . As a country, our response must be as it has always been when we have been confronted by violence. We must come together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and defeat our enemies”.(3)

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(1)“PM statement following London terror attack: 4 June 2017”.https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-following-london-terror-attack-4-june-2017.

(2)“PM statement following London terror attack: 4 June 2017”.

(3)“PM statement following London terror attack: 4 June 2017”.

Turkey: Working for the Clampdown

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Last summer’s Coup-that-was-no-Coup in Turkey has given Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (aka the Prez) and his henchmen (aka members and supporters of the Justice and Development Party or AKP) a golden opportunity to fast-track their plan-of-action, slowly yet quickly transforming the one-time nation state of Turkey into an Anatolian Federation of Muslim Peoples . . . a place where the nouns Turk and (Sunni) Muslim are synomimous and where the implementation of Shariah Law is but a stone’s throw away.[1] Journalists and critical thinkers are thus shunned and duly punished: “Media crackdowns are nothing new in Turkey, but the most recent wave of repression has reached a fever pitch following this summer’s failed coup attempt. Since the coup, the Turkish government has arrested more than 100 journalists; thousands more have lost their jobs and/or press credentials”, as written by Ian Bremmer (@ianbremmer) in TIME magazine.[2]

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“According to a story by independent journalism organization Platform 24 (P24) the total number of journalists who are imprisoned in Turkey reached 130 on Oct. 18 after the owner and two employees of Radyo Karacadağ, a Kurdish radio station shut down by government decree on Sept. 30, were placed under arrest . . . The 130 people in prison include those charged and arrested and several others who have been convicted for their journalistic activities. It does not include people who are being held in police custody with no charges, nor does it include those individuals who might have been arrested under the state of emergency without the news of their arrest being published in the media”.[3] And on 25 October 2016, the European Parliament published its JOINT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION: the European Parliament calls “on the Turkish authorities to release those journalists and media workers being held without compelling evidence of criminal activity, including well-known journalists such as as Nazli Ilicak, Sahin Alpay, Asli Erdogan, Murat Aksoy, Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan; stresses that the journalists should not be detained on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations, including in cases where charges are brought against them, and underlines the need to ensure that pre-trial detention remains an exception”.[4]

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And putting the cherry on top of his cake of infamy, the Prez had his henchmen do some more dirty deeds two days before Halloween, as reported by the news agency Reuters: “Turkey said it had dismissed a further 10,000 civil servants and closed 15 more media outlets over suspected links with terrorist organizations and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed coup in July. More than 100,000 people had already been sacked or suspended and 37,000 arrested since the abortive putsch in an unprecedented crackdown President Tayyip Erdogan says is crucial for wiping out the network of Gulen from the state apparatus. Thousands more academics, teachers, health workers, prison guards and forensics experts were among the latest to be removed from their posts through two new executive decrees published on the Official Gazette late on Saturday [, 29 October 2016]. Opposition parties described the move as a coup in itself. The continued crackdown has also raised concerns over the functioning of the state”.[5]

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The news agency continues that the “extent of the crackdown has worried rights groups and many of Turkey’s Western allies, who fear Erdogan is using the emergency rule to eradicate dissent. The government says the actions are justified given the threat to the state posed by the coup attempt, in which more than 240 people died. The executive decrees have ordered the closure of 15 more newspapers, wires and magazines, which report from the largely Kurdish southeast, bringing the total number of media outlets and publishers closed since July to nearly 160. Universities have also been stripped of their ability to elect their own rectors according to the decrees. Erdogan will from now on directly appoint the rectors from the candidates nominated by the High Educational Board (YÖK) . . . The government extended the state of emergency imposed after the coup attempt for three months until mid-January. Erdogan said the authorities needed more time to wipe out the threat posed by Gulen’s network as well as Kurdish militants who have waged a 32-year insurgency. Ankara wants the United States to detain and extradite Gulen so that he can be prosecuted in Turkey on a charge that he masterminded the attempt to overthrow the government. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies any involvement. Speaking to reporters at a reception marking Republic Day on Saturday [. 29 October 2016], Erdogan said the nation wanted the reinstatement of the death penalty, a debate which has emerged following the coup attempt, and added that delaying it would not be right”.[6]

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[1] C. Erimtan, “The Failed Coup Attempt – or the Dawning of Sharia Law in Turkey?” The Duran (18 July 2016). http://theduran.com/author/can-erimtan/.

[2] Ian Bremmer, “These 5 Facts Explain the (Dire) State of Press Freedom Globally” TIME (13 Oct 2016). http://time.com/4530322/press-freedom-journalism-censorship/.

[3] “Platform 24: Total number of arrested journalists in Turkey rises to 130” Turkish Minute (20 Oct 2016). https://www.turkishminute.com/2016/10/20/platform-24-total-number-arrested-journalists-rises-130/.

[4] “JOINT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION” European Parliament (25 Oct 2016).

[5] Humeyra Pamuk, “Turkey sacks 10,000 more civil servants, shuts media in latest crackdown” Reuters (30 Oct 2016). http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-dismissals-idUSKBN12U04L?il=0.

[6] Humeyra Pamuk, “Turkey sacks 10,000 more civil servants, shuts media in latest crackdown”.

The Coup-that-was-no-Coup according to Ahmet Şık

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Recently, the co-editor of Muftah’s Iran, Iraq, and Turkey pages Claire Sadar published an “interesting” piece on the Coup-that-was-no-Coup. Sadar starts off as follows: “On September 30, Turkish journalist Ahmet [Şık] spoke to a packed seminar room at Harvard University as part of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs’ annual iTurkey in the Modern Worldi seminar. [Şık] is a longtime critic of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party, the AKP, and has been arrested and tried multiple because of his work. [Şık] was jailed for a year in 2011 as a result of his then unpublished book The Imam’s Army [in Turkish, İmamın Ordusu], which examined the Gulen movement’s penetration into the Turkish government and security forces. At the time, the Turkish government used the book to connect [Şık] to an alleged secret, anti-government organization known as Ergenekon”.[1]

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Sadar continues that Ahmet Şık’s “conclusions are based on his own observations, as well as his sources in Turkish political circles. [Şık] believes the roots of the coup attempt lie in the break between the Turkish government and the Gulen Movement. He does not, however, agree with the Turkish government’s description of the coup attempt as a purely Gulenist plot. [Şık] believes those involved have a much more complex set of backgrounds and motives, and likely include ultra-nationalists, Kemalists, and Gulenists united in their shared opposition to Erdogan and his government, as well as their overtures to the Kurdish PKK guerrilla organization”.[2]

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Claire Sadar explains that according to Şık “the Turkish government was likely alerted to the imminent coup attempt about 4 or 5 pm local time on July 15. Once the alarm was sounded, the head of the Turkish intelligence services, Hakan Findan, paid a visit to the general in charge of Turkey’s land forces. Together, these two men decides to suppress the coup attempt by relaying orders down the ranks (Şık did not specify what kind of orders these might have been). Şık believes that between the time the coup plot was uncovered and the rebellious officers began to move on Istanbul and Ankara, that is between approximately 4 and 10 pm, there were ongoing negotiations between the Turkish intelligence services and civilian government and nationalist officers who were part of the coup alliance. The coup failed not because it was poorly planned, or civilians took to the streets to oppose it, but, rather, because the Turkish government successfully broke the alliance between the non-Gulenist officers and those affiliated with the Movement. One of the crucial pieces of evidence, or lack thereof, is the fact that no organizational chart or plan for the planned military junta has surfaced since the coup was foiled. Such a chart has been a crucial part of every other coup plot in Turkish history. Şık believes this is evidence the Turkish government is trying to cover up the extent of the coup and the specific officers involved. The picture Şık paints of Erdogan and the AKP is very different from their portrayal in the Turkish and international media, since the coup attempt. In Şık’s version of events, Erdogan is still in power only because a compromise was reached with the Turkish military’s nationalist and secularist elements. According to Şık, between the time when the coup was uncovered and when it was crushed, Erdogan’s government likely secured its survival by agreeing to give the military more influence in government decision-making”.[3]

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And in a surprising twist, Sadar argues that rather that “the military’s remaining independence, the failed coup, in fact, has brought the Turkish military back into the political system”.[4]

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[1] Claire Sadar,” A Fascinating Theory About What Really Happened During the Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey” Muftah (s,d,). http://muftah.org/turkish-journalist-ahmet-sik-proposed-fascinating-theory-really-happened-recent-coup-attempt-turkey/#.WAPGmT7_o3z.

[2] Claire Sadar,” A Fascinating Theory About What Really Happened During the Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey”.

[3] Claire Sadar,” A Fascinating Theory About What Really Happened During the Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey”.

[4] Claire Sadar,” A Fascinating Theory About What Really Happened During the Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey”.

Bush & Obama: Age of Terror

The Untold History of the United States

In 2012 the three-time academy award winning filmmaker, Oliver Stone, and American University Professor and Historian, Peter Kuznick, released a book and Showtime series entitled The Untold History of the United States.[1] Below is a copy of the “last episode in the series called Bush & Obama: Age of Terror. It covers the following subjects: The Project For A New American Century, a neoconservative think tank that called for a Pearl Harbor-type event to catalyze military action in the Middle East. The tyranny of neoconservatives who pushed us to war with Iraq using faulty intelligence. The rushing through of the Patriot Act, which stripped Americans of a wide variety of civil liberties while bestowing legal precedent to the new surveillance state. The national brainwashing and fear-mongering of the War on Terror. Invading Afghanistan to defeat some of the same terrorists the U.S. armed and trained two decades earlier. Unconstitutional torture and interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay. The mainstream media’s facilitation of war through propaganda and corporate collusion. Obama selling out to J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, General Electric, and Big Pharma. The $700 billion financial bailout paid for by workers, pensioners, homeowners, small businessmen, and students with loans. The rise of CEO compensation amid the collapse of the middle class. Obama’s failure to deliver hope, change, or transparency, his prosecution of government whistleblowers, his fortification of Bush’s national security state.[2]

 

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The retired four-star general of the United States Army who served as Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander put it like this: “Obviously [, Bush and Obama] come from different parties, they view things differently, but when it comes to the security of the nation and making those decisions about how to protect our nation, what we need to do to defend it, they are, ironically, very close to the same point. You would get almost the same decision from both of them on key questions about how to defend our nation from terrorists and other threats”.[3]

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[1] “Breaking the Set: The Untold History of the US | Interview with Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick” The Erimtan Angle (15 Dec 2012). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/breaking-the-set-the-untold-history-of-the-us-interview-with-oliver-stone-and-peter-kuznick/.

[2] “Oliver Stone’s The Untold History of The US .. Bush & Obama Age of Terror” Before it’s News (23 Sep 2015). http://beforeitsnews.com/politics/2015/09/oliver-stones-the-untold-history-of-the-us-bush-obama-age-of-terror-2744352.html.

[3] Glenn Greenwald, “Keith Alexander Unplugged” The Intercept (08 May 2014) .https://theintercept.com/2014/05/08/keith-alexander-unplugged-bushobama-matters/.

Mass Murder of Women in Turkey Today

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It has been quite a while now that I posted “[v]iolence against Women in Turkey: A 1,400% Increase in Seven Years”,[1] and sadly the situation has all but deteriorated over the past years. Now that Turkey is steadfastly moving down the post-Kemalist path towards the establishment of a veritable AKP Sultanate of Kitsch, the issue of women’s rights and gender equality has taken on a particularly troubling outlook. Recently, the Doğan News Agency reported that “[s]ome 413 murders of women were reported by the Turkish media in 2015, the Umut (Hope) Foundation has stated in a new report, underlining that the trend has been increasing since the beginning of 2016. The foundation called on Feb. 16 for NGOs to conduct comprehensive studies on the issue, which it described as a ‘mass murder of women’. It said the death toll ranged from women older than 85 to a six-week-old fetus. Of the 413 killings, 309 were a result of armed attacks, and 40 women have been killed since the beginning of January 2016 alone. Most young women were killed because they requested a divorce or separation from their partners, the foundation noted, adding that many cases involved victims of ‘shady suicides’, mostly in southeastern provinces. In addition, data shows that 55 husbands committed suicide after killing their wives from the beginning of January 2015”.[2]

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The Umut Vakfı press statement concluded that in Turkey today “[o]ne in three women is subjected to violence”.[3] In the Turkish press it is not uncommon to come across a sentence like this one: a “local man in the southeastern province of Gaziantep disappeared after killing his wife, who had demanded a divorce, and eight other family members, using a pump-action rifle”.[4]

Sultana – Biz Neysek

The above YouTube clip was released on 17 February 2016: “Biz Neysek bir sosyal sorumluluk projesidir. My social responsibility song to raise awareness for female existence”. Sultana [born Songül Aktürk] is a rapper and pop singer, born and raised in Turkey who “holds her mirror to social and women’s issues as a young artist living both in Turkey and the United States”.[5]

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[1] “Violence against Women in Turkey: A 1,400% Increase in Seven Years” The Erimtan Angle (21 Sep 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/violence-against-women-in-turkey-a-1400-increase-in-seven-years/.

[2] “413 women killed across Turkey since start of 2015 according to media: Association” Hürriyet Daily News (17 Feb 2016). http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/413-women-killed-across-turkey-since-start-of-2015-according-to-media-association.aspx?pageID=238&nID=95308&NewsCatID=339.

[3] “413 women killed across Turkey since start of 2015 according to media: Association”.

[4] “413 women killed across Turkey since start of 2015 according to media: Association”.

[5] “Sultana (2)” Discogs. https://www.discogs.com/artist/600409-Sultana-2.

Getting Flogged for Having Blogged: Saudi Arabia 2015

‘While millions stand for Freedom of Speech in the name of Charlie Hebdo, Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to public flogging after setting up an online forum to encourage a discussion about faith. Despite the international condemnation and outcry from human rights organizations the punishment was carried out. Alishba Zarmeen secular activist and a friend of Raif Badawi is IN THE NOW (13 Jan 2015)’.

Amnesty International posts on its website: a “witness confirmed to Amnesty International that the flogging of Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi took place this morning after Friday prayers [9 January 2015] in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah”.