Middle East Press(28 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)
Is The World Waiting For A Time When There Are No More Palestinians Left? By Tariq A. Al-Maeena: New Age Islam's Selection, 28 August 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

28 August 2017

Is The World Waiting For A Time When There Are No More Palestinians Left?

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

The True Meaning of ‘Jihad’ And the Brotherhood’s Big Con

By Mohammed Al Shaikh

Compounding Rohingya Woes

By Saudi Gazette

Have No Illusions about the Muslim Brotherhood

By Abdellatif El-Menawy

Emirati Women Making a Mark in All Sectors

By Habiba Al Marashi

Qatar Submits To Iran and Loses the Gulf

By Mohammed Al-Hammadi

Doha’s Cosiness with Tehran Will Come Back to Haunt It

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Hunger Strike That Shames Iran’s So-Called Moderates

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Is The World Waiting For A Time When There Are No More Palestinians Left?

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

27 August 2017

Every day, Palestinian civilians are being murdered in cold blood by the ruthless and heavily armed Israeli forces operating in occupied Palestine. Coupled with the viciousness of the armed Israeli settlers who have illegally encroached on Palestinian lands, the situation is beyond dire. It is a holocaust of some proportions as ethnic cleansing is in full swing under the patronage of Benjamin Netanyahu, who will undoubtedly one day be charged with having committed crimes against humanity. And yet, the world watches in silence.

Along with thousands of illegal settlers, Netanyahu is calculatedly following the game plan set by his mentor Ariel Sharon, a former Israeli prime minister who once said in a recorded interview: “I don’t know something called International Principles. I vow that I’ll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child are more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I’ve killed 750 Palestinians in Rafah in 1956.”

Israeli brutality has reached its peak in recent years with the uncensured daily murders of Palestinian civilians. Crimes against women and children have reached unprecedented levels. In a span of three days, Israeli Occupation Forces shot a 13-year-old Palestinian girl because she “wouldn’t stop.” They then tried to cover up the documented video clip by falsely claiming that she was attempting an attack, when in reality she was on her way to her friend’s house.

The next day, Israeli occupation forces beat, and then kidnapped a Palestinian girl near the illegal Israeli Jewish settlement of Itmar, south of the West Bank city of Nablus. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli occupation forces called on the girl from a distance of about 50 meters and asked her to raise her hands and sit down. The girl obeyed the order and did all that she was ordered to do by the heavily armed and intimidating Israelis. They then approached the girl, beat her, blindfolded her and took her to an unknown place. In justifying their actions, the Israeli media reported that Israeli occupation army sources claimed that the girl was kidnapped because she had a knife with her. As has been their recent modus operandi, the Israeli forces failed to provide any proof that the girl was indeed carrying a knife.

Two Palestinian brothers, unarmed and on their way home, were accosted by the Israeli Occupation forces and shot. Mousa Khadour was killed, while his brother Raghad was seriously injured. Their other sibling Majd had been killed by the Israelis two months earlier.

Israeli Terrorism

Iyad Hamed was another unfortunate victim of Israeli terrorism. He was gunned down by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Silwad. In the face of overwhelming evidence, the army was forced to admit that the victim had not, in fact, been a terrorist and was not carrying a weapon. Witnesses reported that he had lost his way, panicked when he saw the soldiers, and tried to run to safety, whereupon he was shot in the back. This was corroborated by medics who examined his wounds on the scene. What makes the case of Iyad Hamed tragically significant is that he had a mental disability. He was a simple-minded father who was on his way home from the store to deliver candy to his children, who themselves had special needs, before, as a witness stated, he was murdered and “the candies he bought for his children were mixed with his blood.”

Israeli Occupation forces executed four Palestinians in less than 24 hours, including one with Jordanian citizenship. Among the victims was a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed Rugby who was the third victim executed in a terror swoop. The following day, an Israeli settler ran over and killed a six-year-old Palestinian girl with his car as she stood in front of her home.

Sabra, Shatila, and Jenin are not the only reminders of mass murder against the Palestinian population. Such atrocities continue unabated and unchecked today with sinister intentions. Such acts of calculated violence have not escaped the attention of those who have not been swayed by the propaganda of the Israeli government. A German diplomat was incensed and asked me angrily: “Have Arabs lost their soul? Don’t they see what is going on in Gaza and the rest of Palestine today? The Nazis used similar tactics: terror, intimidation and finally murder. Today, the Israelis expect the world to apologize for those sins of long ago, while they brazenly keep committing similar ones.”

What is the rest of the world waiting for? For a time when there are no more Palestinians left? Have those hapless people reached the point of no return?

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/27/Is-the-world-waiting-for-a-time-when-there-are-no-more-Palestinians-left-.html

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The True Meaning of ‘Jihad’ And the Brotherhood’s Big Con

By Mohammed Al Shaikh

27 August 2017

The most important weapon in the hands of terrorists is to violate and abuse the term “jihad” and link it to terrorist and suicide attacks. Leaders of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood were the first to exploit and violate this noble concept since the beginning of their terrorist operations, when they assassinated Egyptian prime minister El Nokrashy Pasha in mid-20th century. Since that time, terrorist operations began to pick up pace. The deceitful Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi tried to give doctrinal legitimacy to suicide operations to make it look legitimate jihad in Islam.

Jihad in Islam - as it is known - has its conditions, specifications and caveats. Since early times, the scholars of Islam had thought through these stipulations. Throughout history, jihad was not associated with indiscriminate killing of people or deliberately bringing about destruction. It was not until this ridiculous organization came along to preach what was not even mentioned in the Quran. Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood became very popular and young, ignorant people lined up in queues to become suicide bombers, in order to enjoy the pleasures of Paradise. Muslim Brotherhood exploited the repressed sexuality of the youth and their tendency to commit violence for the benefit of the organization.

For bringing about revolution, Muslim societies need to follow the obligation of obedience of Sunnis towards their guardian, and the impossibility of dissent against it. Salman al-Awda has published a book called Questions in the Revolution in which he cites all the evidence on this issue, interprets some of them and completely discredits others. The government censored his book and prevented him from selling it in libraries. Nasser al-Omar also issued an inflammatory book against the Shiites titled The Reality of Shiites in the Country of Monotheism, in which he launched an atonement campaign against them, although they are native citizens of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a basic constituent of society.

Misleading

Such misleading calls made it easier for ISIS to attract Saudis to conduct suicide attacks in mosques of the Shiite community in the Kingdom. It goes without saying that the legitimate jihad in Islam is to be under the banner of the guardian or with his permission. Therefore, all those who call for jihad, whether through a sermon, a public statement, or a book; instigate against a constituent or group within a society, or foment a culture of hatred to provoke young people and pave the way for their recruitment to terrorist movements, should be prosecuted, because they have a central role in creating the atmosphere of terrorism.

Al-Qaradawi cannot be tried and punished because he lives in a state that believes in his doctrine. As for the Saudi instigators, it is time to try them and hold them accountable, especially since evidence condemns them and their terrorist operations, their seditious practices and their suspicious relations in the cradle of Qatar. Their punishment is a duty and an obligation.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/27/The-true-meaning-of-jihad-and-the-Muslim-Brotherhood-con.html

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Compounding Rohingya Woes

By Saudi Gazette

28 August 2017

WHOEVER planned and staged Thursday night’s coordinated attacks on 30 police posts in Myanmar have done a great disservice to the Rohingya minority in that country who are fighting for their basic rights. At least 12 members of the security forces and 77 insurgents were killed in the attack that took place in Myanmar’s Rakhine state where most of approximately 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya live.

Those behind the attack can’t be unaware of the massive military counteroffensive that followed similar incidents in October 2016. Some 87,000 Rohingya had to flee to Bangladesh after the military operation. Security forces have begun a new “clearance operation” this month, worsening Rohingya’s conditions still further.

To be fair, the persecution of Rohingya did not start with last year’s attacks. Over the past decade, they have been repeatedly called “The Most Oppressed People in the World.”

In fact, this is an understatement.

A UN report in February described their situation as a possible “genocide” and a set of “crimes against humanity.”

Myanmar authorities categorize them as Bengali “interlopers” though they’ve lived there for generations. While speaking to the media about Thursday’s attack on police posts, a government spokesman was careful to avoid the term Rohingya. He described the attackers as “extremist Bengali insurgents.”

Unfortunately, the country’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for fighting for human rights when her country was under military rule is on the same page with the military and the Buddhist majority over the treatment of Rohingya. She asked the diplomats from several countries not to use the term Rohingya. Calling them Bengalis would, she thinks, perpetuate the myth they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The treatment of Rohingya has emerged as Myanmar's most contentious human rights issue. Most of them were rendered stateless by the country’s 1982 Citizenship Law.

Since 2012 and 2013, a wave of attacks by their Buddhist neighbors in the northeastern state of Arakan/Rakhine has killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes — driving them into refugee camps abroad or shelters within the country.

Media are forbidden to travel to the region, but reports of atrocities by the military are leaking. They include rape, murder and burning villages.

The fact is most of those who could have already fled the country. Only those who can’t afford to pay border officials and people-traffickers to smuggle them across the border remain in Myanmar. Along with them are those who are not able to withstand the perils of the journey — children, elderly people and women.

The latest clashes come hours after a panel led by former UN chief Kofi Annan urged Myanmar to lift restrictions on movement and citizenship for Rohingya. But the worry is that Thursday’s developments will spark an even more aggressive army response and trigger clashes between Muslims and Buddhists.

Unfortunately, in the case of Rohingya, repression at home is matched by apathy abroad. Even though more and more Rohingya want to leave, neighbouring countries are becoming less and less hospitable. Bangladesh has floated the idea of relocating tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees to a remote, flood-prone island off its coast. In India, where Rohingya are generally vilified, there has been a string protests against them.

Given the factors working against the Rohingya at home and abroad, those behind Thursday’s attacks, whether Rohingya or their supporters in other countries, are playing into the hands of Buddhist extremists looking for an opportunity to tar the Rohingya with the brush of terrorism.

Even before Thursday’s attack, Suu Kyi was justifying all excesses against the Rohingya, saying they are part of “counterterrorism” operations to apprehend the militants.

Rohingya and their friends should ponder whether they, by their reckless actions, should enable Myanmar authorities to justify their inhuman policies and repressive measures against a helpless minority in the name of a worldwide campaign against terrorism.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/article/516024/Opinion/Editorial/Rohingya

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Have No Illusions about the Muslim Brotherhood

By Abdellatif El-Menawy

28 August 2017

The British MP and government minister Alistair Burt visited Cairo last week. In an article published in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, he said the diversionary tactics the Muslim Brotherhood employed to avoid too much scrutiny of its activities before a British report in 2015 were still going on in 2017.

Burt, the foreign office minister of state for the Middle East, continued: “It is time for anyone who defends the Muslim Brotherhood — in London or Cairo — to put an end to this ambiguity.”

This is an important development in the British assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its  opinion on the danger the organisation presents. The 2015 report to which Burt referred was inconclusive and unsatisfactory for those who know the real danger of the Muslim Brotherhood, or those who have suffered from its activities.

The report concluded that the available evidence did not meet the minimum requirement to impose a ban on the organisation. Instead, it opted for strict control of the Brotherhood’s behaviour and activities, including tighter vetting of visa applications and monitoring the sources of funding for charities linked with it.

In 2013, Britain was one of the few Western countries to give warning about the Muslim Brotherhood. Since then, as monitoring continued, authorities have banned 110 foreign extremists from entering the UK, and 155 people overseas have been stripped of their British passports so they cannot return. Extremists such as Anjem Chaudhry have been arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. Others, such as Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza, have been deported.

Burt said in his meetings in Cairo that from monitoring the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK and around the world, it was clear that the organization used ambiguity to conceal its extremist agenda in Egypt.

When Pope Francis visited Egypt in April, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party was described to him as “the door of terrorism.” He was also told that the Brotherhood viewed the Egyptian security personnel assigned to secure him during his visit as “Christian militias.” This was a clear attempt by the Brotherhood to ignite sectarian violence against Christians, and helps to explain  the apparent change in Britain’s position.

I remember when London in the 1990s seemed to be a haven for terrorists whose motives were clear. Britain’s position was strange. Some British politicians and sections of the media even discussed the dangers they were embracing and nurturing. I said at the time that they would pay for this policy of containment, but even I could not have envisioned the horrors that would ensue.

Now is the time to recall the mistakes of the past, and to build on the realities of the new situation. It is a fact that Britain and many other European countries have begun to realize the danger they face, and have begun to take many measures to protect their borders, and their very societies.

This opportunity should be taken advantage of and we should work together to achieve a common goal.

In this regard, the views of John Casson are instructive. Casson, the British ambassador to Cairo for the past three years, is a former deputy ambassador in Jordan and head of the foreign office’s Near East and North Africa department, and one of the UK’s most knowledgeable people on this region.

He met a number of colleagues recently, and talked about a new direction in British policy on its dealings with terrorism and its threat, and a new position on Britain’s view of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In response to a question about whether the status of the Muslim Brotherhood would be reviewed, and whether it would be classified as a terrorist group in Britain, Casson said the UK had laws to ensure “we have all the power to confront those who pose a threat to us, including those who may commit violence. We always want to ensure that we are not complying with the establishment of networks, charities, sites, bank accounts and mosques that support violence and extremism.”

He said the application of these laws related to all groups, including anyone associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, because the UK would not allow and would not tolerate terrorism and extremism, and would face it with full force. “Anyone who publishes poisonous ideas, such as ideas of war between Islam and Britain, or ideas that incite violence, will be dealt with full force and decisiveness when we find any evidence of a person committing such acts.”

I believe this is a major development in the British vision that I think we should build on.  

Source: arabnews.com/node/1151581/columns

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Emirati Women Making a Mark in All Sectors

By Habiba Al Marashi

August 27, 2017

In the past, women in the UAE have had a major role in taking care of the family while their men were away for several months diving, fishing or trading overseas.

Emirati women embody pride, strength and grace, and have played an integral role in the society. As a mother, sister, daughter and a wife, they are upbringing the next generation with great responsibility. Notably, every generation of women paves the way for future generations to contribute more to the growth. Today, women in the UAE play a far larger role compared to yesteryears. However, we still have to gain ground on several fronts to achieve complete balance.

We are blessed to live in a society where the leadership ensures that women are given a voice and due importance for their contribution to the future growth of the UAE. His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has amply stressed the importance of women when he said: "Arab women make up half our community. They are sometimes better than men. Today, they are rising to greater heights in our society and are able to achieve goals within our communities. They will only grow."

In the past, women in the UAE have had a major role in taking care of the family while their men were away for several months diving, fishing or trading overseas. Many women had worked as traders, making handicrafts from palm trees and selling them at the markets to support themselves. After major oil discoveries in 1958, women's role within the UAE gradually expanded and they assumed major societal roles. Women in the UAE today make up two-thirds of the government workforce. Emirati women have challenged the norms and succeeded as business owners, ministers, parliamentarian leaders and fighter pilots. Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, is a female icon from the UAE. She made history in 2004 as the first woman to hold a ministerial post. Dr Amal Al Qubaisi is the first woman to taker the highest post at the Federal National Council. Kholoud Al Dhaheri was appointed as the first woman judge. Maryam Al Saffar was the first Emirati woman Controller of the Dubai Metro. Major Mariam Al Mansoori was UAE's first female fighter pilot. UAE leaders have encouraged women to work in sectors which were earlier restricted to men. The leadership has always had great confidence in the capabilities of women to take up major challenges and succeed in proving themselves capable of holding senior positions in society.

To celebrate the achievements of Emirati women, August 28 was declared as the "Emirati Women's Day". The day was launched last year by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the General Women's Union, President of the Family Development Foundation, and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. The logo of Emirati Women's Day depicts the country's flag with an illustration of a woman on one section and signifies the individuality of Emirati women.

Emirati Women's Day boosts the recognition of women in the region and highlights their pivotal role in the community. The day is part of a bigger movement to increase female empowerment in the Middle East. Women make up 66 per cent of public sector workers, and 30 per cent of them are in leadership roles. The UAE has eight female ministers, making it one of the highest rates of ministerial representation in the region. Women representation in the Federal National Council stands at 20 per cent. UAE ranked first in the 2015 World Economic Forum report on the literacy rate indicator and on women's enrolment in secondary education index.

The Constitution of the UAE guarantees equal rights for both men and women. Under the Constitution, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles, access to education, the right to practice professions, and the right to inherit property. Women are also guaranteed the same access to employment, health and family welfare facilities.

The UAE has made huge steps to support the advancement of women and boost their contribution to development. The country continues to demonstrate its commitment to empower women through supporting more meaningful roles while maintaining strong connections to tradition and culture. Emirati women are making their mark in every field in the Arab region. They will continue to grow and prosper and will surely overcome any barriers that come their way.

Source: khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/emirati-women-making-a-mark-in-all-sectors

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Qatar Submits To Iran and Loses the Gulf

By Mohammed Al-Hammadi

27 August 2017

Anyone who is more biased to a country other than his homeland or submits to a stranger is the one who loses out. Any state that goes hand in hand with foreigner against its brothers and neighbors is also at a loss.

Qatar’s crisis has revealed several crises which the Gulf intellectual and Arab intellectual suffer from. Some of these crises are related to specifying priorities, stop making mistakes, understanding the geographic surrounding and differentiating between the enemy and the friend and between those who wish well and others who wish evil. There are other crises pertaining to loyalties and affiliations and to visions and stances. This is in addition to crises pertaining to reasoning, understanding interests and arranging options, such as what comes first, money or the homeland?

It’s such a real and huge crisis that the Gulf has seen nothing like and may see nothing like. It showed us a lot as it’s only through it that we learnt things we would not have learnt through compliments. There are many details we would not have realized if we had kept silent over Qatar’s destructive role in the region and the world and if the four countries hadn’t made their decision to boycott Doha or if they hadn’t announced the real reasons they decided to boycott it. If none of this happened, we would still be deceived by Qatar and its command which showed us that the affairs of Gulf and Arab countries are the least of its concerns and that it’s been working to serve the interest of their enemies or rather to serve the interest of anyone who has ambitions in the region.

A Swamp Of Conspiracy

Qatar is involved, or actually drowned, in a swamp of conspiracy against its brothers and neighbours. This is why the scandal shocked the Qataris more than it shocked the rest of the world. Instead of stopping what it’s doing, Qatar chose to be stubborn and arrogant and decided to keep walking down this wrong path.

Its submission went as far as requesting from the Iranian regime to let it open its embassy in Tehran. Less than two years after summoning its envoy in Iran following the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad, Doha decided to return its envoy without providing details or making clarifications. The logical explanation is that after its relations with its neighbours and brothers went bad, Qatar started to get closer to Iran and submitted to it. Doha also hopes to enhance bilateral relations with it in all fields while losing the Gulf.

What kind of policy is this? What sovereignty does Qatar speak of? Who benefits from this step which even the Iranians mocked? Mustafa Abdali, an Iranian political analyst, warned of rapprochement with Qatar and called on his government not to forget that Qatar supports terrorism!

Qatar’s understanding of regional affairs is shallow, as Doha has taken foolish decisions, such as reopening the Iranian embassy. Is this a logical move?

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/27/Qatar-submits-to-Iran-and-loses-the-Gulf.html

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Doha’s Cosiness with Tehran Will Come Back to Haunt It

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

28 August 2017

The new cooperation between Qatar and Iran has come as no surprise to Gulf observers. The restoration of full diplomatic ties and the return of Qatar’s ambassador to Tehran illustrate the truth of the claims made by the bloc of four countries boycotting Qatar for its hostile behaviour and actions.

Qatar, like Iran, is a source of chaos and violence. The renewed alliance is best described as the meeting of the two main violence-funding poles in the region.

On one hand, Iran is the main supporter of ultra-hard-line militant groups such as Hezbollah, Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq and others. While on the other, Qatar, for nearly three decades, sponsored extremist militant organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Nusra Front, Ansar Al-Sharia and others.

The only common denominator bringing Qatar and Iran together is regional security and political cooperation.

Qatar is not an important trading partner of Iran, and there is no Shiite figure in Qatar to facilitate their visits to the holy sites. There is no cultural or popular consensus that can justify political rapprochement.

Doha’s claim that the economic boycott by its angry Gulf neighbours forced it into rebooting ties with Tehran is simply not true. The peninsula’s consumer market is the smallest in the region, meaning that Qatar’s requirements can easily be met.

Any potential Qatari-Iranian trade is based on one factor — forming a hostile front against Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.

Adopting such an approach suggests that Qatar has fallen back to its pre-2010 policies. Qatar was an ally of Iran, and a key supporter of Bashar Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

This alliance was then directed against the Saudi-Egyptian axis. The relationship between Doha and Tehran lasted for over a decade, and was anti-Saudi, with the two governments fiercely supporting Hezbollah and Hamas.

Signs of change and the advance of cooperation preceded recent visits by Qatari officials to the Iranian capital. Al Jazeera, Doha’s state-funded media mouthpiece, started employing rhetoric that differed from the official Qatari government position.

It covered the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, defended pro-Iranian armed groups in the Saudi town of Awamiyah, and changed its viewpoint about the uprising in Syria.

Qatar refused to agree to the terms set by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, describing the boycott and demands made by the Anti-Terror Quartet as a blunt and loud transgression against its sovereignty — but it is now making that sovereignty vulnerable to Iranians and their allies.

Why? Certainly not for military protection, as is the case with Turkey. In fact, the cooperation with Tehran is a conscious effort to take a hostile, offensive step in the region. In return, the Iranian cleric-led regime expects Qatar to pump funds and propaganda support to Iranian proxies spread across the region, in order to increase pressure on its adversaries.

This all emphasizes what everyone knows already, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, the retired prince, is still the one who deals single-handedly with the crisis in Qatar, not his son Tamim, the current emir.

Unfortunately for Doha, no matter who holds the reins there today, US policy under the leadership of Donald Trump, the main international player in the region, changed from what it was during the administration of Barack Obama. Trump’s administration is fighting Iran rather than appeasing it.

Doha’s cooperation with the Iranian regime is a nonsensical step, and presents proof that the Anti-Terror Quartet can use in discussions with international governments. It is further evidence of the hostile nature of the Qatari administration and its ties to extremism and violence. It will be difficult to justify Doha’s decision to a large part of the Arab public, which despises the mullahs in Tehran because of their actions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1151656

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Hunger Strike That Shames Iran’s So-Called Moderates

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

27 August 2017

Protecting and promoting human rights is one of the major promises that Hassan Rouhani and the so-called moderates continue to give to the people of Iran. As Rouhani enters his fifth year as president, however, not only has Iran’s human rights record not improved, evidence suggests it has significantly deteriorated, particularly when it comes to the situation of minorities such as Sunnis.  

A major area that requires more global attention is the plight of political prisoners, journalists and human rights activists in jail. Specifically, what is happening to them behind the walls of Iran’s prisons?

Last month, inmates in Hall 12 of Gohardasht prison, also known as Rajai Shahr, 20km west of Tehran, were subjected to a violent and unexplained raid that led to more than 50 prisoners being transferred to Hall 10, where conditions and treatment were even worse.

Hall 10 had been newly renovated before the raid, apparently with the explicit intention of putting more pressure on the prisoners of conscience who the Iranian regime was planning to transfer there. The prisoners are subject to 24-hour video and audio surveillance, even inside private cells and bathrooms. Windows have been covered over with metal sheeting, reducing airflow during summer in a place already known for its inhumane and unhygienic conditions.

In addition, the raid involved the confiscation or outright theft of virtually all the inmates’ personal belongings, including prescription medication. Since then, prison authorities have denied the prisoners access to medical treatment and have even blocked the delivery of expensive medication purchased for them by families outside the prison. Withholding medical treatment is a well-established tactic by Iranian authorities to exert pressure on political prisoners, especially those who continue activism from jail or strive to expose the conditions that political prisoners and other detainees face.

Despite the fact that their newfound stress and lack of sanitation already threatened to have a severe impact on their health, more than a dozen of the raid’s victims immediately organized a hunger strike and declared that the protest would continue until they were transferred back to their former surroundings and had their belongings returned to them.

Others joined the protest, and at the last count 22 detainees were participating in the hunger strike, most of them serving sentences for political crimes such as supporting the leading banned opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. The core group have been starving themselves for approximately a month now, and their health has predictably deteriorated.

Heart, kidney, and lung ailments have been reported, and the prisoners are approaching the point at which they may start dying. Nonetheless, neither the Gohardasht authorities nor the Iranian judiciary have shown any sign of responding to their demands or publicly addressing the severity of the crisis. What is worse, the international community has not been much more attentive.

There has been virtually no push by Western governments or the United Nations to put pressure on the Iranian regime to save the lives of the Gohardasht inmates. This is particularly disappointing in light of the recent shifts in Western policies toward Iran, which come after years of conciliation and neglect for human rights while the United States and its allies focused their attention narrowly on the nuclear issue and prospective trade deals.

During that time, various human rights activists rightly criticized the world community for putting certain matters of Iran policy on the back burner even though they had an immediate impact on the lives and safety of potentially millions of Iranian citizens. It has been widely reported that Tehran has been cracking down with escalating intensity on journalists, activists, and other “undesirables,” swelling the ranks of its political prisoners.

For all their resilience in the face of violent repression, the Iranian people have precious little outside support that they can rely on. Every global policymaker and every prominent human rights activist has a responsibility to prove this conclusion wrong.

Organizations such as the National Council of Resistance of Iran have vigorously responded to the hunger strikes by calling for the United Nations high commissioner on human rights and the special rapporteurs on torture and on human rights in Iran to issue public statements and initiate a coordinated strategy that will impose serious penalties on the Iranian regime if it does not address the plight of the Gohardasht hunger strikers.

There is a desperate need for international inquiries into this and other human rights abuses in Iran. In fact, while the Gohardasht situation is urgent, once an adequate international response is made, it should be a template inquiries into crimes against humanity that no one in the mullahs’ regime has ever answered for.

In the summer of 1988, about 30,000 political prisoners were hanged simply for suspected loyalties to anti-theocratic resistance groups, mainly the PMOI. The incident was largely ignored in Western media, and despite a handful of statements over the years, no serious inquiry has been launched to identify the locations of the secretly buried victims or to pursue charges against those responsible, many of whom retain positions of influence to this day.

Although that was the single worst act of repression against Iran’s political prisoners, the Gohardasht hunger strikes show that the overall pattern of repression remains unchanged, while the clerical regime remains as indifferent to human suffering as it ever has been. It goes without saying that the international community as a whole is better than this; but that community must act accordingly and intervene when Iran’s political violence threatens to claim new victims.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1151651

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