below is an email i received from my friend jen marlowe on the international day of global action for troy davis:
Troy Davis is a death row prisoner in Georgia, facing execution for a crime he very possibly didn’t commit. Two weeks ago, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his appeal for a new trial. His stay of execution ends May 15th.
I’ve been corresponding with Troy Davis for about a year and a half, and, through my interest in his case, have begun to grow more concerned about the death penalty in general.
I’m sending you a piece I wrote about Troy specifically and the death penalty generally. The article ran yesterday in CommonDreams.org. As always, I welcome your comments!
The link to the article is:
And–I want to point out that May 19th is a day of global action for Troy Davis. There are solidarity events being planned in cities and towns all over the US. I hope you’ll consider taking part. More information is available at:
All the best,
in jen’s article, “the death penalty club,” to contextualize troy davis’ case, she compares the united states practices of the death penalty with other nations that violate human rights by using this barbaric practice under the guise of so-called “justice”:
The majority of the world has been moving towards abolishing the death penalty. Two thirds of all countries have abolished it in law or in practice-the most recent being Burundi. In all of Europe, Belarus is the only country that still practices capital punishment.
Even with the trend towards abolition, capital punishment remains a crucial global human rights issue, mostly due to a handful of egregious offender nations. In 2008, 2,390 prisoners were executed in twenty-five countries. 93% of those executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United States and Pakistan.
There are the only two countries in the world that have not ratified the UN Convention prohibiting the execution of children. They are Somalia and the United States. There are currently over sixty prisoners on death row in the US for crimes they committed as juveniles.
In April 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Commission passed its second Resolution Supporting Worldwide Moratorium on Executions, calling on countries which still practice capital punishment to restrict its use and not apply it to juveniles. Ten countries–including China, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sudan and the US–voted against the Resolution. A similar resolution was adopted by a large majority at the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, and once again this past December. Both times the USA was part of the small minority in dissent.
I don’t know if Troy Davis ponders the fact that our global colleagues regarding capital punishment include China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sudan and Somalia. But our membership in this infamous club should give all of us much pause.
There will all always be another Troy Davis, more and more possibly innocent prisoners on the chopping block, until the United States follows the lead of two-thirds of the world and fully abolishes the death penalty.
the san francisco bay view news reports on amnesty international’s plans for the global day of action that you can take part in:
To save Troy’s life, “we’re asking everybody to come out strong on May 19th – a day marked in human rights calendars across the world as the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis,” says Amnesty Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn.
“Whether you’re holding a ‘Text TROY to 90999’ sign on a busy street or organizing your local Amnesty chapter to hold a public demonstration or vigil, we need everybody to … register your Global Day of Action for Troy Davis activity or event now,” she said. For ideas and to register your event, go to Global Day of Action for Troy Davis.
“It’s really important that we get an accurate count of how many events and activities are taking place on May 19th, so we can share this information with officials in Georgia. Our emails and phone calls have gone a long way in buying Troy some much-needed time, but now we’ve got to take our action to the streets.
“We appreciate the tens of thousands of you who have stood in Troy’s corner while heart-stopping scenes have unfolded. On three separate occasions, Troy has been scheduled for execution. And on three separate occasions, his life was saved within a short period of time, even minutes, of his scheduled execution date.
“Each time, those last minute stays came after people like you turned out by the thousands to rally in his defense. It was no coincidence. Troy’s sister and long-time Amnesty activist, Martina Correia, has acknowledged Amnesty’s powerful role in saving her brother’s life each of those times.
“Now here we are again with the clock winding down,” warned the Amnesty spokesperson. “We are serious when we say that we need everyone to support Troy Davis on May 19th by organizing their own event or awareness-raising activity.
“After all, if you had 30 days left to fight for your life, wouldn’t you want to know that you had thousands standing in your corner?”
here is an interesting animated video from amnesty international explaining the context of troy davis’ case:
and for some inspiration and why capital punishment should be abolished here are the lyrics for one of my favorite ani difranco songs, “crime for crime” (back before ani drank the obama koolaid):
everyone needs to see the prisoner
they need to make it even easier
they see me as a symbol, and not a human being
that way they can kill me
say it’s not murder, it’s a metaphor
we are killing off our own failure
and starting clean
standing in the gallows
everyone turned my way
i hear a voice ask me
if i’ve got any last words to say
and i’m looking out over the field of familiar eyes
somewhere in a woman’s arms a baby cries
i think guilt and innocence
they are a matter of degree
what might be justice to you
might not be justice to me
i went too far, i’m sorry
i guess now i’m going home
so let any amongst you cast the first stone
now we’ve got all these complicated machines
so no one person ever has to have blood on their hands
we’ve got complex organizations
and if everyone just does their job
no one person has to understand
you might be the wrong color
you might be too poor
justice isn’t something just anyone can afford
you might not pull the trigger
you might be out in the car
and you might get a lethal injection
’cause we take a metaphor that far
but it isn’t just troy davis. and it isn’t just the death penalty that should be up for discussion. troy davis’ case is important, but it should be a symbol of abolishing the death penalty more generally. and it should be a symbol of what is wrong with the so-called “criminal justice” system more generally as well. it should also force us to think about and resist the united states’ practices at guantánamo, especially in light of what jeremy scahill recently revealed about its immediate reaction force or emergency reaction force, but as scahill explains, it is known as the extreme repression force:
While much of the “torture debate” has emphasized the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” defined by the twisted legal framework of the Office of Legal Council memos, IRF teams in effect operate at Guantánamo as an extrajudicial terror squad that has regularly brutalized prisoners outside of the interrogation room, gang beating them, forcing their heads into toilets, breaking bones, gouging their eyes, squeezing their testicles, urinating on a prisoner’s head, banging their heads on concrete floors and hog-tying them — sometimes leaving prisoners tied in excruciating positions for hours on end.
The IRF teams “were fully approved at the highest levels [of the Bush administration], including the Secretary of Defense and with outside consultation of the Justice Department,” says Scott Horton, one of the leading experts on U.S. Military and Constitutional law. This force “was designed to disabuse the prisoners of any idea that they would be free from physical assault while in U.S. custody,” he says. “They were trained to brutally punish prisoners in a brief period of time, and ridiculous pretexts were taken to justify” the beatings.
So notorious are these teams that a new lexicon was created and used by prisoners and guards alike to describe the beatings: IRF-ing prisoners or to be IRF-ed.
Former Guantánamo Army Chaplain James Yee, who witnessed IRFings, described “the seemingly harmless behaviors that brought it on [like] not responding when a guard spoke.” Yee said he believed that during daily cell sweeps, guards would intentionally do invasive searches of the Muslim prisoners’ “private areas” and Korans to “rile the detainees,” saying it “seemed like harassment for the sake of harassment, and the prisoners fought it. Those who did were always IRFed.”
“I’ll put it like this,” Stafford Smith says. “My clients are afraid of them.”
“Up to 15 people attempted to commit suicide at Camp Delta due to the abuses of the IRF officials,” according to the Spanish investigation. Combined with other documentation, including prisoner testimony and legal memos, the IRF teams appear to be one of the most significant forces in the abuse of prisoners at Guantánamo, worthy of an investigation by U.S. prosecutors in and of themselves.
the above is just an excerpt, but i strongly recommend reading the entirety of scahill’s investigative report. jonathan cook has an important piece this week on the zionist entity’s guantánamo known as facility 1391:
The United Nation’s watchdog on torture has criticised Israel for refusing to allow inspections at a secret prison, dubbed by critics as “Israel’s Guantanamo Bay”, and demanded to know if more such clandestine detention camps are operating.
In a report published on Friday, the Committee Against Torture requested that Israel identify the location of the camp, officially referred to as “Facility 1391”, and allow access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Findings from Israeli human rights groups show that the prison has in the past been used to hold Arab and Muslim prisoners, including Palestinians, and that routine torture and physical abuse were carried out by interrogators.
The UN committee’s panel of 10 independent experts also found credible the submissions from Israeli groups that Palestinian detainees are systematically tortured despite the banning of such practices by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1999.
The existence of Facility 1391 came to light in 2002, when Palestinians were detained there for the first time during Israel’s reinvasion of the West Bank.
In a submission to the UN committee, Israel denied that any prisoners are currently being held at the site, although it admits that several Lebanese were detained there during the attack on Lebanon in 2006.
The committee expressed concern about an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that found it “reasonable” for the state not to investigate suspicions of torture at the prison. The panel is believed to be concerned that without inspections the prison might still be in use or could be revived at short notice.
The Israeli court, the committee wrote, “should ensure that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment by detainees in Facility 1391 be impartially investigated [and] the results made public”.
Hamoked, an Israeli human rights organisation, first identified the prison after two Palestinian cousins seized in Nablus in 2002 could not be traced by their families. Israeli officials eventually admitted that the pair were being held at a secret site.
Israel still refuses to identify the precise location of the prison, which is inside Israel and about 100km north of Jerusalem. A few buildings are visible, but most of the prison is built underground.
“We only learnt about the prison because the army made the mistake of putting Palestinians there when they ran out of room in Israel’s main prisons,” said Dalia Kerstein, the director of Hamoked.
“The real purpose of the camp is to interrogate prisoners from the Arab and Muslim world, who would be difficult to trace because their families are unlikely to contact Israeli organisations for help.”
Ms Kerstein said the prison site was an even grosser violation of international law than Guantanamo Bay because it had never been inspected and no one knew what took place there.
According to the testimonies of the Palestinian cousins, Mohammed and Bashar Jadallah, they were held in isolation cells measuring two metres square, with black walls, no windows and a light bulb on 24 hours a day. On the rare occasions they were escorted outside, they had to wear blacked-out goggles.
When Bashar Jadallah, 50, asked where he was, he was told he was “on the moon”.
According to the testimony of Mohammed Jadallah, 23, he was repeatedly beaten, his shackles tightened, he was tied in painful positions to a chair, he was not allowed to go to the toilet and he was prevented from sleeping, with water thrown on him if he nodded off. Interrogators are also reported to have shown him pictures of family members and threatened to harm them.
Although Palestinians passing through the prison were interrogated by the domestic secret police, the Shin Bet, foreign nationals at the prison fall under the responsibility of a special wing of military intelligence known as Unit 504, whose interrogation methods are believed to be much harsher.
Shortly after the prison came to light, a former inmate – Mustafa Dirani, a leader of the Lebanese Shia group Amal – launched a court case in Israel claiming he had been raped by a guard.
Mr Dirani, seized from Lebanon in 1994, was held in Facility 1391 for eight years along with a Hizbollah leader, Sheikh Abdel Karim Obeid. Israel hoped to extract information from the pair in its search for a missing airman, Ron Arad, downed over Lebanon in 1986.
Mr Dirani alleged in court that he had been physically abused by a senior army interrogator known as “Major George”, including an incident when he was sodomised with a baton.
The case was dropped in early 2004 when Mr Dirani was released in a prisoner exchange.
Ms Kerstein said there was no proof that more prisons existed in Israel like Facility 1391, but some of the testimonies collected from former inmates suggested that they had been held at different secret locations.
She said the concern was that Israel might have been one of the countries that received “extraordinary rendition” flights, in which prisoners captured by the United States were smuggled to other countries for torture.
“If a democracy allows one of these prisons, who is to say that there are not more?” she said.
The committee examined other suspicions of torture involving Israel. It expressed particular concern about Israel’s failure to investigate more than 600 complaints made by detainees against the Shin Bet since the panel’s last hearings, in 2001.
It also highlighted the pressure put on Gazans who needed to enter Israel for medical treatment to turn informer.
Ishai Menuchin, executive director of Israel’s Public Committee against Torture, said his group had sent several submissions to the committee showing that torture was systematically used against detainees.
“After the court decision in 1999, interrogators simply learnt to be more creative in their techniques,” he said.
He added that, since Israel’s redefinition of Gaza as an “enemy state”, some Palestinians seized there were being held as “illegal combatants” rather than “security detainees”.
“In those circumstances, they might qualify for incarceration in secret prisons like Facility 1391.”
i find it so ironic that those who deserve justice–the political prisoners in any number of zionist jails or american jails or guantánamo–are ignored, are rendered invisible meanwhile those whose crimes were committed right out in the open continue to go unpunished. daniel machover and adri nieuwhof’s recent article in electronic intifada detils just why these war criminals form the zionist entity must be prosecuted, particularly for their crimes in the world’s largest open air prison, otherwise known as gaza:
As High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, EU countries are obligated to bring the legal duties of the Fourth Geneva Convention into their law. The basic starting point is enacting any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing or ordering any of the grave breaches of the convention (i.e., war crimes). The following grave breaches mentioned in the convention seem relevant to the assault on Gaza:
“[W]illful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention.”
EU countries also have the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed or to have ordered such grave breaches, and must bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts (or extradite them to another country that is prepared to prosecute).
The authoritative commentary on the Fourth Geneva Convention, published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), states that:
“As soon as a contracting party realizes that there is on its territory a person who has committed … a [grave] breach, its duty is to ensure that the person concerned is arrested and prosecuted with all speed. The necessary police action should be taken spontaneously, therefore, not merely in pursuance of a request from another State.”
The ICRC commentary confirms that EU countries have an obligation to actively search for suspected war criminals. It follows that this duty should include maintaining border controls that enable a state to ensure that known suspects seeking to enter the jurisdiction are arrested on arrival. Many studies by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Redress Trust, have looked at the compliance of states with their legislative obligations under the Geneva conventions and these reveal some shocking failures by major EU countries. Austria, France, Greece and Italy have simply done nothing to make it possible for suspected war criminals to be prosecuted in their countries under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Meanwhile, full compliance with the principle of universal jurisdiction has not been achieved in several countries and in Malta and Latvia the situation is not fully clear and requires further research. For example, in Belgium the requirements to exercise universal jurisdiction do not comply with the Geneva conventions, because they contain a series of complex rules regarding the status of the suspect and the victim, none of which are permitted in the conventions.
The mere presence of a suspected war criminal of whatever nationality on the territory of a state should be enough to trigger universal criminal jurisdiction, regardless of the nationality or current whereabouts of the victim. Moreover, with the EU’s obsession about the safety of borders and preventing undesirable people from entering the free market area, one would have thought that the member states would coordinate to ensure European countries never become safe havens for suspected war criminals.
Palestinian victims of alleged war crimes, just like other victims of war crimes, seek justice and the fair application of the rule of international criminal law to their cases. On 4 May, Judge Fernando Andreu of the Spanish National Court announced the decision to continue the investigation into the July 2002 bombing of al-Daraj, Gaza. This attack resulted in the deaths of 16 Palestinians, including 14 civilians. The decision represents a major step towards achieving justice for the victims. It opens the door for accountability, whereby suspected Israeli war criminals may be held responsible for the suffering they have inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza.
Fair criminal trials in EU member states, especially if they result in convictions, could provide genuine deterrence and begin to provide justice for Palestinian victims of Israeli actions. The EU has a massive role in that regard. Instead of paying lip service to injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people by issuing statements “deploring the loss of life” and promises to “follow closely investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law,” EU countries would achieve much more by applying the rule of law to Israel, starting with making their laws match their obligations under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. After all, 60 years later there is little sign that the need for war crimes trials has reduced.
hasan abu nimah recently had a two-part article in electronic intifada, the first of which is called “ban ki moon’s moral failure” and the second of which is called “covering up israel’s gaza crimes with the un’s help” shows us how the real criminals–those committing state terrorism–are getting away with mass murder, massacres:
But the reality is that Ban has learned all the “right” lessons from the past. In 1996, then UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali published — against American “advice” — a UN report that demolished Israeli claims that its shelling on 18 April that year of the UN peacekeeping base in Qana, Lebanon, killing 106 people, was an accident. Boutros-Ghali effectively paid with his job as the Clinton Administration vetoed his bid for a second term. In 2002, after the Israeli army destroyed much of Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, the Security Council ordered then Secretary-General Kofi Annan to carry out an investigation. But Israel refused to allow the inquiry team into the country, and so Annan, rather than going back to the Security Council to ask for its support in carrying out his mandate, simply told the investigation team to disband and go home.
Ban is taking things even further. He apparently created the board of inquiry not in order to find out the truth, but only as a political exercise to cover himself from the charge of total inaction. But the board of inquiry members did take their mandate very seriously and honestly. By rejecting their call for accountability, Ban has in effect rejected and betrayed his own mandate to uphold the UN Charter and international humanitarian law.
And on what grounds did the secretary-general decide to publish only 27 pages? Most likely the rest of the report was not only damning to Israel, but would have exposed his decision to block further investigation as even more nakedly cynical.
It is especially puzzling since Ban himself had described the board of inquiry as “independent.” In response to allegations he had “watered down” the document, he stated: “I do not have any authority to edit or change any wording” of its “conclusion and recommendations.”
He did much more than that: he withheld 85 percent of the report! It may be true that the report is just an “internal document and is not for public release” as Ban wrote in his letter, and that the inquiry “is not a judicial body or court of law.”
as usual the real criminals who get away with torture and mass murder are the heads of state in the u.s. and the zionist entity to name the most prominent. and those who fall prey to its rules that never apply to the state itself and usually only to those who are poor and brown and muslim. and so where is the justice system here?