Asylum needed for Afghan Interpreters

May 8th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

If you look down the right hand side of this blog, underneath my blogroll, you’ll see a section of links called Campaigns. The first in that list is a pretty image which links to a campaign that ran from about 2007.

It calls for the British government to help the those Iraqis’ that helped the British by being interpreters. Those interpreters put their and their families lifes in danger to help our armed forces. In the eyes of some of their countrymen, and others who sought to influence the course of Iraqs’ future, these interpreters were traiters and were hunted, and beaten and killed. Those Iraqis asked for our help, for refuge. The British government dragged it’s heels and lots of interpreters died.

They deserved to be treated better. Many, many of them didn’t get it.

Although I have added and removed many links from the sidebar since 2007 that one has remained. An important issue that never really got resolved.

The button links to a video (by Bloggerheads) that explains a little about that campaign. It is just as relevant to a new campaign for Afghan interpreters that are facing the same problem after helping our armed forces in their country.

Watch the video and see why this issue is worth revisiting.

Liberal Conspiracy

About six years ago, bloggers from across the political spectrum banded together for a campaign to offer asylum to Iraqi interpreters to British armed forces. It was a long and bumpy campaign, and we didn’t get all that we wanted at the time, but it helped to get more Iraqi interpreters into the UK than if we had done nothing.

Now it’s time to revisit the issue, for interpreters who have helped British armed forces in Afghanistan.

The reasons this is the right thing to do are straightforward:

1) These interpreters have helped save the lives of British soldiers in Afghanistan.

2) They put their lives at risk, from extremist elements, to help British forces.

3) If we abandon them, it hurts British peace-keeping missions in the future. Locals will be less willing to help British armed forces in the future if they think they will be abandoned at a later date.

Whether you were for or against the war in Afghanistan, helping Afghani interpreters and their families is the morally righteous course of action. This says nothing about whether Afghanistan was right or wrong – only that these people need help, and should be offered asylum in the UK for their services.

The NRA wants to help

December 19th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

This sure is good of the NRA after all the damage it’s done over the years…

The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again

So, what’s the odds on that contribution being to let kids carry assualt rifles in school so they can defend themselves should anyone want to go on another killing spree in a school?

Update 21/12/2012:

Well, I wasn’t too far out, and if you remove my sarcasm, you could say I was right on the money.

How predictable, huh?

The Red Cross. Still banning Christmas, apparently.

November 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Daily Mail has admitted that Winterval, as a replacement for Christmas, is a myth, but there is another myth that originated with the Daily Mail that, although not quite as old, is potentially more damaging.

I’ve wrote about it last year and it’s reared it’s ugly head again: The Red Cross Ban Christmas.

The Mail story goes back to 2002 and about this time of year, just like Winterval, someone new finds this story and starts the shouting all over again. Go and read my previous post, here, and then come back.

Now you know the background to the Daily Mail story I want to re-iterate just why the Red Cross/Crescent needs to not do Christmas or any other religion.

One of the Red Cross’ Seven Fundamental Principles is neutrality. Without this, they are just another charity. I don’t mean to denigrate charities or make them sound inferior to the Red Cross, but without these seven principles, especially neutrality, the Red Cross wouldn’t enjoy the respected and unique position it has.

The Principle of Neutrality

the purpose of complying with the principle of Neutrality is to enjoy the confidence of all. Implicitly, this compliance with the principle of Neutrality is also a condition for operational efficiency, which requires confidence of all in many contexts, i.e. not only in armed conflicts contexts;

the principle of Neutrality prohibits a component of the Movement from taking part in hostilities;

the principle of Neutrality prohibits the Movement from engaging at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

The point is that the Red Cross is not a political or religious organisation. This neutrality is one of our fundamental principles and governs everything we do in the whole Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It means that we can reach and help people in need, whoever and wherever they are. Often we provide help in countries that other organisations cannot or will not work in.
We cross front lines in times of war to help conflict victims and visit prisoners of war on both sides. We can only do this life-saving work because we are understood to be a completely neutral, independent organisation. Put simply, our neutrality saves lives.

We can’t let people in need down by compromising our neutrality. That is why we do not align ourselves with any particular political cause or religious creed anywhere in the world. And that’s why we don’t have any items of a religious nature in our shops.

A nativity scene in a shop in Kent might seem like it has nothing to do with our sensitive, precarious work in a war zone in Africa or the Middle East. But in a world where information travels quickly and pervasively – a world where an eight-year-old news story is still raising questions with our supporters – we have to make sure we act consistently across the board with regard to our neutrality.


I’m pretty sure most shops wouldn’t bother with xmas if they didn’t lose sales. The Red Cross would ‘do Christmas’ if it didn’t have ramifications in other areas of it’s operations.

People claim that the Red Cross is pandering to Muslims and minorities and being politically correct. Every time the story is repeated, the poster, a commenter or a forum thread member say they are going to stop donating, if they ever did in the first place, because of this. “This is a Christian country” they claim. This is flip side of the coin that the Red Cross gets from other quarters that mean there is a Red Crescent organisation. Exactly the same sentiment that shows exactly why the Red Cross needs, at it’s core, to be and to be seen to be neutral.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent need to be above this sort of bickering and this neutrality principle is them saying that they do not care where you are from, what you look like, who you believe in or what you have done. They will help you and you can let them help you because they will not preach, or condemn you, and the authorities will let them help because they will not interfere.

The Red Cross’ neutrality means that they can use that money were it’s needed, where other organisations cannot get to. I would say that is a little more important than pandering to people that want to see a little model nativity scene in every building they walk in to.

Is a fairy on a tree really that important?


November 9th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Royal British Legion

“The Legion never insists that the poppy be worn or insists that others allow it to be worn,” said Mr Simpkins. “We are grateful when people wear it as a sign of respect, but the decision must be a free one – after all, the poppy represents sacrifices made in the cause of our freedoms.”

So, wear one if you want to and don’t if you don’t. and lets stop all this fuss about disrespect and being anti-forces if someone doesn’t wear a poppy. It’s anybody but the Legion that see it that way.
h/t Bloggerheads

Dead Tossers: Osama bin Laden (added to ‘to do’ list)

May 3rd, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

It’s been a while, but another tosser bites the dust. As I’m in the middle of something in the ‘real world’, a Dead Tosser obituary will have to wait. I’m sure Bin Laden can wait a couple of weeks.

Someone give me a nudge if it doesn’t appear in about three weeks, eh?

Does Resolution 1973 mean the importation of arms to Libyan rebels is legal?

March 30th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Hilary Clinton and William Hague have expressed the view that UN Resolution 1973, the one that makes the bombing of Libya legal, rolls back the arms embargo.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are open for business!

The Guardian

The US and Britain have raised the prospect of arming Libya’s rebels if air strikes fail to force Muammar Gaddafi from power[*].

At the end of a conference on Libya in London, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said for the first time that she believed arming rebel groups was legal under UN security council resolution 1973, passed two weeks ago, which also provided the legal justification for air strikes.

America’s envoy to the UN, Susan Rice, said earlier the US had “not ruled out” channelling arms to the rebels.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, agreed that the resolution made it legal “to give people aid in order to defend themselves in particular circumstances”.

[*] Just quick, before we go on, I thought the air strikes and no fly zone weren’t meant to get rid of Gaddafi. I thought it was just to help the rebels get rid of him. So what is this? All the big grown up nations kick Gaddaffi to the ground and let the rebels try to finish him, if they take to long we push them out the way and stamp on his head? I didn’t think we did that sort of intervention anymore.

Clinton and Hague, in my opinion, are wrong. I am quite prepared to be wrong about this myself as I’m not a politician or lawyer so my definition of the words ‘arms embargo’ might not be the same as international statesmens’ definitions.

UN Resolution 1973 (.pdf) states…

Enforcement of the arms embargo

13. Decides that paragraph 11 of resolution 1970 (2011) shall be replaced by the following paragraph : “Calls upon all Member States, in particular States of the region, acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements, in order to ensure strict implementation of the arms embargo established by paragraphs 9 and 10 of resolution 1970 (2011), to inspect in their territory, including seaports and airports, and on the high seas, vessels and aircraft bound to or from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, if the State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo contains items the supply, sale, transfer or export of which is prohibited by paragraphs 9 or 10 of resolution 1970 (2011) as modified by this resolution, including the provision of armed mercenary personnel, calls upon all flag States of such vessels and aircraft to cooperate with such inspections and authorises Member States to use all measures commensurate to the specific circumstances to carry out such inspections”;

This paragraph replaces one in UN Resolution 1970 (.pdf)…

11. Calls upon all States, in particular States neighbouring the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, to inspect, in accordance with their national authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, in particular the law of the sea and relevant international civil aviation agreements, all cargo to and from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, in their territory, including seaports and airports, if the State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains items the supply, sale, transfer, or export of which is prohibited by paragraphs 9 or 10 of this resolution for the purpose of ensuring strict implementation of those provisions;

They say the same thing except the amended paragraph in UN/Res/1973 is a bit tidier. They both in essence say do not allow the transportation/sale of anything in paragraphs 9 and 10 of UN/Res/1970.

So what is and isn’t allowed under that arms embargo? Paragraph 10 of UN/Res/1970 states that Libya can not export arms. Paragraph 9 is the one all about selling and exporting to Libya…

9. Decides that all Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, from or through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance, related to military activities or the provision, maintenance or use of any arms and related materiel, including the provision of armed mercenary personnel whether or not originating in their territories

That’s pretty unambiguous and clear. Even under paragraph 4 on UN/Res/1973, ‘Protection of Civilains’ there is no room for the movement of arms in to Libya…

4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported tothe Security Council;

Nations acting under the UN can go in and bomb Libya, to protect civilians, but they cannot use ground forces and cannot supply arms to anybody in Libya.

But, and there is always a ‘but’, there are some exceptions to this rule in taking arms into Libya…

(a) Supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, and related technical assistance or training, as approved in advance by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 24 below;

‘No lethal’. Not very good if you want to get rid of a dictator, really. Could be handy for putting down any protests the local population might want to hold though.

(b) Protective clothing, including flak jackets and military helmets, temporarily exported to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya by United Nations personnel, representatives of the media and humanitarian and development workers and associated personnel, for their personal use only;

Military style safety equipment that actually belongs to someone rather than for distribution once inside Libya. Still no good for overthrowing megalomaniac leaders.

(c) Other sales or supply of arms and related materiel, or provision of assistance or personnel, as approved in advance by the Committee;

This subclause of the arms embargo is important. It is the get out clause for supplying arms to Libya. This is the little bit of text that will open the door to the possibility of legally supplying arms to the rebels. All a nation has to do is persuade the rest of the UN Security Council committee to agree. How hard can that be? The majority voted in favour of intervening in Libya so they’re half way there already, and if they can give guns to someone else to do it a) they’ll make a bit of money and b) they’re one step removed if/when the shit hits the fan.

I know what you’re thinking, too. I’ve just proved myself wrong. But, no. This get out clause is in UN/Res/1970. Clinton and Hague said UN/Res/1973 allowed them to go arm the rebels. There was always the option of removing the arms embargo but it is in resolution 1970 and would need the agreement of the Security Council committee. Resolution 1973 does not automatically mean the importation of arms to anybody in Libya is legal or sanctioned by the UN.

(link: UN Resolutions 2011)

Selective military help

March 18th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

I don’t know about if the no-fly zone in Libya is gonna help or completely turn to ratshit. At least there is a UN mandate for it, for what that’s worth.

It does strike me a little odd (if that’s the right word) that our glorious leaders have jumped and scrabbled for this no-fly zone over Libya when it is an internal conflict between the Libyan people and Gaddafi and his supporters about who gets to run the place. It’s Libyans fighting about Libya. No one else is involved. Yes, people are gonna get hurt, in various horrible ways, but the rebels or opposition or whatever you want to call them have at least some weapons and are fighting back and holding positions.

Why, though, haven’t the leaders of the free world jumped at the chance to militarily help the people of Bahrain who have been protesting about their dictator? After all, they are not just fighting against their own despot, but their despot has invited his despot mate to join in fucking over Bahrains civil population in the form of the Saudi army.

Libya is a purely internal conflict. Bahrain isn’t. Aren’t their rules about this sort of thing?

On Nick Clegg scrapping control orders

January 7th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Deputy Prime Minister is going to scrap control orders… so we’re told…

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, today confirmed that the control order regime will be replaced by the coalition government, ending the “virtual house arrest” of terror suspects.

In a keynote London speech on civil liberties, Clegg said no final agreement had been reached by ministers on a replacement of the controversial control orders, which were introduced by the previous government.

Control orders are an abhorrent piece of legislation. They remove the right to a fair trial, they rely on a presumption of guilt, are a punishment for what someone might do rather than what one has done, they remove freedoms with no proof of any wrongdoing and are completely self-defeating.

They can be applied without a conviction because of what someone is saying or doing or who someone is associating with. To get a control order you don’t need to have done anything illegal, only to have done something that the state doesn’t like. I try not to invoke stuff like this, but it is truly Orwellian.

How one is supposed to go about getting a control order lifted I’ve no idea. How can you show that you’re voluntarily not going to do something unless given the chance not to do it?

If someone is suspected of plotting an illegal act, how does placing a control order help the situation? For a start, that person is given a heads up the the authorities are onto them. Secondly, the suspect may not carry out the act in the end. Wouldn’t it be better to let the suspect carry on and then when there is sufficient evidence to carry a prosecution, arrest them and then, well, prosecute them?

But Clegg isn’t going to get rid of control orders. He is only going to modify them…

While Clegg signalled that key elements would be reformed, he admitted that they would not be removed altogether because a “small number” of dangerous terror suspects could not be dealt with by the traditional justice system.

And these dangerous terror suspects were so dangerous that just going about their daily business was going to bring the country to it’s knees? These men may have their movements restricted and have a list of people they can’t talk to but if they are that dangerous, wouldn’t the counry be safer with them behind bars rather than out in public, albeit with certain restrictions?

How can someone not be dealt with by the traditional justice system? Why can anyone, no matter who, be labelled a criminal without actually having been found guilty of anything? Why not slap control orders on people to stop them talking to house burglars? After all one might get talking about various methods of house-breaking and it might give one ideas…

The only way to stop dangerous people is to put them on trial. How that is done, for example with intercept evidence, is another debate, but the fundamental right of a trial and innocent until proven guilty must be held onto. Like our life depends on it.

Modifying control orders is not enough. Nick Clegg needs to scrap them altogether.

Update: Robert Sharp at Liberal Conspiracy

[control orders are] a rude and obvious short-circuit of the very basic legal principles. If a Minister ‘knows’ that someone is a danger, then they should be charged and convicted. If there is not enough evidence to convict, then neither politicians, the police nor the general public get to use the word ‘know’ in their rhetoric. There simply is not the epistemological certainty for that kind of claim, especially not in the context of political arguments. A control order is an extreme form of accusation, and Deputy Prime Ministers and Home Secretaries must not be allowed to make such ‘accusations’ and leave them hanging.

As the Home Secretary conducts her review of control orders in the coming months, look out for examples of this rhetoric, “we know, but we cannot convict.” It is a half-formed argument, a question not an answer. It is a cowardly fudge for those who do not want to make the tough decision: do we let these suspects go, or do we allow phone-tapping evidence to be admissable in court? This is the issue at stake, and the phenomenon of control orders is simply a clever device for punting the decision. If Nick Clegg is really serious about restoring civil liberties to British citizens, then he and his Prime Minister need to stop using bad rhetoric, and start making tough choices.

Labour: Helping keep Brits abroad ‘secure’

July 14th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

From the Guardian

The true extent of the Labour government’s involvement in the illegal abduction and torture of its own citizens after the al-Qaida attacks of September 2001 has been spelled out in stark detail with the disclosure during high court proceedings of a mass of highly classified documents.

Previously secret papers that have been disclosed include a number implicating Tony Blair’s office in many of the events that are to be the subject of the judicial inquiry that David Cameron announced last week.

Among the most damning documents are a series of interrogation reports from MI5 officers that betray their disregard for the suffering a British resident whom they were questioning at a US airbase in Afghanistan. The documents also show that the officers were content to see the mistreatment continue.

Read the rest.

via TenPercent on Twitter

Update: By being on the ball, as usual *rolls eyes*, I missed this, the Guardians’ small library of documents. (via D-Notice)

Gaza Freedom Flotilla attack

June 1st, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

How I see it.

A gang of men break into a house, the owner of the house goes at the intruders with whatever comes to hand, a broom handle maybe or a kitchen knife, and beats the fuck out of the intruders. The intruders are armed and start shooting, killing the owner and injuring other memebers of the household.

Whose side are you on?

For a more informed take on the situation, Craig Murray

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place
on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

In brief, if Israel and Turkey are not at war, then it is Turkish law which is applicable to what happened on the ship. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation into events and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel is obliged to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.

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