Human rights

1 April 2011News in Brief

On 2 March, the US army filed 22 new charges against suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning. The charges include the death penalty charge of aiding the enemy, as well as theft of public property or records, computer fraud, transmitting defence information and wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing it would be accessible to the enemy. Bradley is being made to sleep naked each night and stand naked outside his cell each morning to receive his clothes. His…

1 April 2011News in Brief

When US president Obama came into office in January 2009 he promised to shut the Guantanamo detention centre within 12 months and to end military trials of detainees there. On 7 March, Obama finally abandoned these pledges when he announced the resumption of military trials at Guantanamo (after a two-year freeze), and set out rules for holding some of the detainees inside the camp indefinitely. The US congress has blocked attempts to house some of the detainees on US soil or bring them to…

1 March 2011News

In the counter-terrorism review announced on 25 January, the British government proposes replacing “control orders”, found by the courts to contravene human rights legislation, with a modified system.

This system will still allow electronic tagging, enforced overnight residence and restrictions on freedom of association and movement, including foreign travel bans. It will limit control orders, presently unlimited, to two years. But if it is possible to make a new order as soon…

1 March 2011News

US private Bradley Manning has been in a maximum-security prison in Virginia, USA, since May 2010 after being accused of leaking classified information to the whistleblower site WikiLeaks. Manning faces up to 52 years in prison if convicted of leaking the classified information. His trial date had not been set at the time of going to press.

Manning spends every day in a 12’ x 6’ cell and he is only allowed out for one hour a day, which he spends exercising by walking around…

1 March 2011News in Brief

It has been reported that George W Bush called off a Swiss trip, his first abroad since the publication of his biography, Decision Points, where he admitted that he authorised “waterboarding” for Guantánamo detainees. The cancellation seems to have been prompted by the threat of an arrest warrant being issued (and planned protests) over US treatment of Guantánamo Bay detainees. Seemingly without irony, a Bush’s spokesperson announced: “We regret that the speech has been cancelled. President…

1 March 2011News

The first bombing raid of the Gulf War was launched on Iraq 20 years ago. On 15 January members of Wrexham Peace & Justice Forum and supporters organised a stall in the town centre with a display of information about the effects of war and sanctions on Iraqi children.

Children’s shoes were displayed alongside the information to remind us of all the lost children of Iraq. Well over a million Iraqi children have died either as a direct result of warfare or indirectly,…

1 March 2011News

Within four days of a campaign launch, over a hundred people have signed up to withhold their television licence fee in protest over threats to the Welsh language channel S4C. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) are campaigning for the UK government to guarantee independence and sufficient funding for the channel.

Amongst those who have said they won’t be paying the tax that funds the BBC are the singers Dafydd Iwan, Gai Toms and Bryn Fôn and the academic Dr…

9 February 2011Blog entry

PFC Bradley Manning has been in a maximum-security prison in Virginia, USA for the past eight months after being accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. This information includes the “Collateral Murder” video, which depicts a 2007 US helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 12 people. Manning has been in solitary confinement and under constant surveillance although he has not yet been tried or convicted of his crimes.

Manning is being held in the Quantico Confinement…

1 February 2011News in Brief

Bradley Manning
An appeal has been made to lift restrictions imposed on US private Bradley Manning, detained at Quantico marine base since July. He is charged with leaking 250,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks, including field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan detailing US troops killing civilians. Bradley is in solitary confinement, checked every five minutes, having to respond each time. He is not allowed newspapers or TV news and can only correspond with approved people. His…

1 February 2011Short Review

Verso, 2010; 112pp; £9.99

Don’t let the rather complicated title of this book put you off. Gareth Peirce, the author of this very important book, is more than well known as the solicitor who has given hope to so many lost in the networks of legal injustice.

She gives us a sombre warning: “We could never have envisaged that the history of the new century would encompass the destruction and distortion of fundamental Anglo-American legal and political principles in place since the 17th century.”

That is…

1 December 2010News

Dale Farm, a former scrapyard between Wickford and Billericay in Essex, the largest Traveller site in the UK is under threat of eviction.

About one-third of the site is authorised. After redesignating the remainder as greenbelt, Basildon borough council has refused planning permission to the 90 families who own plots/yards there. The council has asked central government for up to £10m for an eviction which may take three weeks. Once the 28-day quit or be evicted notices are served,…

1 December 2010News in Brief

On 10 November, Amnesty International urged a criminal investigation into the role of former US president George W Bush and other officials in the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”. In his memoirs, Bush confirmed his personal involvement in authorizing “water-boarding” and other techniques against “high value detainees”.

“Under international law, the former president’s admission to having authorized acts that amount to torture are enough to trigger the USA’s obligations to…

1 December 2010Feature

An outsider’s perspective on recent peace news

As a US student spending a semester abroad, British coverage of my own country has been an eye-opening experience. Everything from November’s tumultuous mid-term elections to the national joke that is Glenn Beck gets airplay on this side of the pond, usually with a bit more perspective than the knee-jerk coverage we get back home. Perhaps a little distance is necessary to provide proper context.

So I’d like to return the favour. So here’s an outsider’s perspective on the most…

1 July 2010News in Brief

On 14 June, 24 Witness Against Torture activists were acquitted in a Washington DC court of “unlawful entry with disorderly conduct” during protests at the US Capitol on 21 January – the date by which US president Obama had promised to close the Guantanamo detention camp.
During the demonstration, people dressed as Guantanamo prisoners were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading: “Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives”.
Inside, where deceased…

1 July 2010News in Brief

On 23 May, Mordechai Vanunu, imprisoned for 11 years in 1986 for revealing the truth about Israel’s nuclear bomb, was returned to jail for speaking to foreigners. Amnesty International called Vanunu a prisoner of conscience and said: “Mordechai Vanunu should not be in prison at all, let alone be held in solitary confinement in a unit intended for violent criminals.”