1,000 Participants Attend Norman Finkelstein Lecture in UK

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Over a thousand people attended the Norman Finkelstein’s lecture in central London on November 11th.  Participants were of different backgrounds, ages and professions and mostly university students.  The event is part of a UK tour carried out by Finkelstein, which comes within Palestine awareness week, organized by the Palestinian Return Centre and other organizations.

The event started around 7pm witnessed long queues of people and was a complete sell out. Dozens were not able to take part due to lack of space.

Norman Finkelstein’s lecture illustrated about the developments of Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He criticized Israel for its procrastination and manipulation regarding the peace process, accusing its leadership of being the key obstacle to peace.

Furthermore, he blamed Israel for the constant tensions taking place in the region. Also, he criticized Israel for its war against the civilians in Gaza and Lebanon where thousands died and were injured.
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) consider this talk and tour as the most important and successful ever event carried in the UK as thousands of people participated. The tour helped to familiarize students and beginners with the conflict.

“We are keen to spread the word about Palestine in the UK. Universities and students are our key target–to teach them about the injustice facing Palestinians. Working with student unions and groups help reaching that goal. Also, such events can support the Right of Return as people become more aware of the plight facing Palestinians.” Said a PRC spokesman.

The tour of Mr. Finkelstein was successful despite the attempts of Pro-Israeli groups to smear and ruin it. Such groups caused the Manchester event  to be moved from the university to Friends House hall in the city. Manchester University was pressured to move the events following pressure by the Israel lobby.

The Jewish Chronicle, a leading Jewish and Pro-Israeli newspaper in the UK featured the tour on its front page, accusing Mr. Finkelstein of being an anti-Semite because he criticizes the barbaric behaviour of Israel.  The paper claimed there is a pro-Palestinian activism that is sweeping across British universities.

The awareness week included events in Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham and London.

The PRC, in the meantime, announced that it has started to prepare a speaking tour for Madth Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who witnessed Israeli attacks against Gaza civilians in 2009.  Gilbert will speak at the Imperial College, UCL, Manchester and Edinburgh Universities.  These events are part of the 3rd Palestine Memorial Week mid Jan 2012.

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The Day I Will Never Forget

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nadja Dizdarevic

After Fajr prayers, I decided to go to sleep for a while, because I was up all night working on some brothers cases. These brothers (here in bosnia ) are detained in the immigration centre. I went to bed, but I could not sleep, for some reason I did not feel peace in my heart.

After half an hour of restlessness, I decided to get up. My children were surprised I was awake as I normally sleep longer on Mondays and Thursdays as I try and follow the sunnah for fasting on these days. I told them to go back to sleep, and I explained to them that I had to go to the immigration centre early so that I can get the brothers there to sign some legal documents. Soon I heard my mobile phone ring,

It was very bad news. Amar Hanci’s deportation was going to be deported to Tunisia at 2pm this day. I felt the wind and colour drain from me, and words cannot really describe how despondent I felt at that moment. I had been so busy with his case and had sought a temporary injunction from the international court of law in Strasbourg with the aim of prohibiting his deportation. Everything we had asked in the Bosnian court of law had been refused.

I realised I was not thinking rationally as I was so in shock that this brother would be deported. I begam to frantically make a list of organisations and NGOs that I could contact to help. I made a call to Strasboug, then London. I then got confirmation from Strasbourg that they expect the lawyer to act in an urgent procedure, but this was not enough for me. My heart was pounding so much knowing the suffering this brother will face that I could feel it through my whole body. The phone rang again.

It was Amar, and he was extremely distressed, talking and crying in one breath. He said the authorities won’t wait until 2pm, and they want to take him to the airport earlier. He asked me to come immediately. I was panicked myself, making calls to every institution I could letting them know that deportation had begun.
Amars wife was calling me crying and upset. I was scared to frighten her and cause her more distress, so I told her I am doing what I can with the help of Allah(Swt). When I got to the immigration centre, the gates were wide open with the van in the front yard. Even stranger was that I was asked to stay in the car fro 10 minutes. I have never been asked before to do this, as I am known to the authorities through my amnesty international work. I got out the car and asked to see the manager. I was afraid the authorities will take Amar in the van without giving me even the chance to see him or stop them.

From inside, I heard a sound so frightening and strange I was not aware it was even a human voice. My blood iced in my veins when I realised it was Amars voice painfully crying. I immediately demanded a meeting with the manager and they agreed. I was informed that brother Amar was in a bad state of health, doctors were around him giving him oxygen and medicines but nothing seemed to work, he was looking bad. I asked the manager to discuss this like a human being and forget our roles. I showed him the documentation I have, the reports, about brothers who have been deported and the torture they faced from the Tunisians when they went back.

I told the manager what I did in the morning, and that positive imminent news would arrive from Strasbourg. The manager became sympathetic and made some phonecalls, with the government agreeing to stay the deportation until the following Monday. I expressed my thanks to the staff and the manager in the centre for how they helped, emphasising that had they not intervened all these late actions would be for nothing.

After another long talk with the manager, he arranged for me to see Amar with the doctor and let him know the news. When I walked into where Amar was, his state of health and mental state shocked me, I had to hold onto the side of the bed to stop from fainting. Walahi I will never forget that scene and in my life I have already seen many terrible scenes. The brother was shaking uncontrollably, tears were streaming, his face was so white and his hands looked as if they were frozen. He begged to be killed rather than go back to the long torture that would await his return in Tunisia. He spent 3 days in a Tunisian prison before, and would rather be dead than have one more day of that torture. It took me a long time to get him to believe that the deportation is halted, and finally once he understood what I was saying he began to cry even more. It was not normal crying, but crying the likes of which I have never heard before. I took an oath with Allah(swt) in front of him that I would do all I could to stop the deportation, and that inshallah he would not be deported. He began to calm down, and asked that I contact his wife and mother in law to let them know what is happening.

I told him he should do this himself as it is better, and then in the meantime I will contact the organisations to pressurise the European court. Amars wife contacted me as she wished to see her husband but did not have the means. Whilst this was happening, I received notification from the court in Strasbourg that deportation has been stayed untl January 15, 2010 at 6pm. Allahu Akbar, how merciful Allah(swt) is!

I was crying now, but tears of relief and joy, but my children were scared that the deportation had happened and they were tears of sadness. They realised it was good news when I went into Sadja as a way of thanking Allah(swt) and they became happy themselves.

I then remembered to contact Amars wife and I arranged to drive her and her kids to see him. When I drove them back, they seemed happy and calm, but all I could see in my minds eye was Amars pain and desperation. I thank Allah(swt) on this day, where it ended well only because of His(swt) help. I fear for the next day that comes like this, and I ask you for your support and dua’ that these situations are resolved. These brothers need all of our help and dua’. We rely on Allah(swt), we trust in Him(swt) and we accept His(swt) decree, Ameen.

This article has been translated from the story of Sister Nadja Dizdarevic. She works tirelessly for these brothers who have been abandoned and let down by those in the Western countries living in comfort and ease. She has spent her time, money and suffered greatly for this from the authorities, having been physically attacked on several occasions ( I will provide a personal appeal from her later on). If you wish to donate to this cause, please contact me and I will pass on the sisters details / donation information.

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France Welcomes Second Former Guantanamo Inmate

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Paris – A 39-year-old Algerian who was imprisoned for seven years in the US detention centre at Guantanamo on suspicion of terrorism arrived Tuesday in France, the French foreign ministry said.

`In deciding to accept a second ex-inmate on our soil, France is contributing … to implement the decision by US President (Barack) Obama to shut the Guantanamo detention centre,’ the ministry said in a statement.

Saber Lahmar was cleared by courts in several countries, including the United States, of all charges regarding his alleged participation in acts of terrorism.

In the autumn of 2001, Lahmar was arrested in Bosnia with five other Algerians on suspicion of planning an attack on the US embassy in Sarajevo. He was among the first terror suspects to be incarcerated in the controversial prison in Cuba.

Four of the other suspects in the case were released earlier this year. One of them was also sent to France.

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High times in Kabul

June 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Colin Freeze

2009-06-16T030937Z_01_KAB12_RTRMDNP_3_AFGHANISTAN-DRUGS

Afghan farmer looks at anti-narcotics poster in Talbozag village June 14, 2009.

REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Kabul — Sayyed Mohammed, 28, has hollow eyes, a fist full of coins, and a $4-a-day heroin habit.

“I’m addicted,” he tells me in an open air drug market in Kabul, both of us ankle-deep in rubble and ruin.

“I was treated two times in Pakistan, but for one month, I’ve been readdicted.”

Part of the reason he’s back on drugs, he says, is because they are so cheap. “Each dosage costs 100 Afgani,” he explained – the equivalent of $2.

In Afghanistan, opium, and its derivative, heroin, have long tended to be seen as export commodities. Addiction? Largely a foreign problem.

But the nation is slowly realizing the chickens have come home to roost. In rural regions such as Kandahar, the complaints centre on insurgents taxing the opium crops, funding insurgency to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year.

In urban areas such as Kabul, where the Taliban and poppies are less visible, the complaints centre on the corrupting power of drug money, evidenced in the “poppy palaces” that have popped up around town.

Families speak of young men who are getting high instead of getting jobs.

Ground zero for this is Kabul’s Russian Cultural Centre, a sprawling complex shelled heavily during the civil wars of the 1990s. Faded murals still show industrious workers cast in the Soviet Realist mould, but today’s denizens have succumbed to a culture of hopelessness and despair.

Dozens of addicts call the centre home, including Mr. Mohammed, who was reflective before he wandered off to exchange his coins for more drugs.

“Heroin has given a bad name to Afghanistan,” he said. He added he was more concerned about teenagers than himself. “The problem is that they are jobless,” he said. “I tell them, ‘It is not going to reduce your problems, it is going to add to your problems.’ ”

Afghanistan grows more opium than the world can use, forcing rivals such as Myanmar and Laos have cut back because their poppies can no longer compete.

“For a number of years now, Afghan opium production has exceeded [world] demand,” wrote the United Nation’s office on drugs and crime last year.

“The bottom should have fallen out of the opium market,” it said. “It has not.”

Prices, however, have fallen somewhat, and this may also have helped spread addiction in Afghanistan “It’s an increasing problem, day by day,” said Jamal Nazir, a social worker at a Kabul rehab clinic.

Many of his patients arrive from the Russian Cultural Centre, he said, including teenagers. “I have special sympathies because they are the energy of Afghanistan.”

Families shuffled in and out of the rehab centre before Friday prayers. The visitors came from every strata, from poor farmers to the local gentry.

“My wife’s brother, he is addicted,” said Dr. Shah Mahmoud. “Our youths go out of Afghanistan, for work to Iran or neighboring countries, and get addicted.”
He complained of “high authorities,” getting involved in the drug trade and with mafia groups.

Afghanistan’s culture of impunity has to end, he said.

“We blame the government for this problem,” he said. “The government should arrest and hand over to the law those people who are involved in this criminal business.”

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