South African Minister Attacks Apartheid Law Use on Miner

South African Justice Minister Jeff Radebe has demanded that the National Prosecuting Authority give him the reasons for using an apartheid-era law to charge 270 striking miners with murder for the deaths of 34 fellow workers shot by police this month.
Police killed the men at Lonmin Plc (LON)’s platinum mine in Marikana, in North West province, on Aug. 16 as they tried to disperse them following a six-day standoff in which 10 people, including two officers, were killed. The workers had been staging an illegal strike to demand higher pay and police say they were fired upon by the crowd before they shot.
Prosecutors charged the men under the “common purpose” law for participating in a demonstration that led to the deaths of others, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported yesterday. The law was used by the white minority government that ended in 1994 to crack down on anti-apartheid protesters, Pierre de Vos, a University of Cape Town Law Professor, said in a blog published yesterday.
“The NPA’s decision has induced a sense of shock, panic and confusion within the members of the community and the general South African public,” Radebe said in an e-mailed statement today.
In addition to murder, the miners face charges of attempted murder, public violence, illegal gathering, possession of dangerous weapons and possession of firearms and ammunition, the NPA said in an e-mailed statement today.

‘Sufficient Evidence’

“The prosecution has evidence that it is confident is sufficient to sustain the charges that have been brought against the miners,” the NPA said. “Co-perpetrators may be held liable for the death of members of their own group or of others where there was sufficient evidence that they foresaw that death may result as a consequence of their collective action.”
The NPA’s head of North West province, Johan Smit, personally approved the charges, the authority said.
Toward the end of white minority rule and under increased internal and external pressure from opponents, the state relied more on the provisions of the Riotous Assembly Act of 1956 as well as the common purpose doctrine in an attempt to criminalize the actions of all people involved in protest action, according to De Vos. The law was never struck off the statute books after democracy in 1994, unlike many similar apartheid laws.
The decision to press murder charges “is bizarre and shocking and represents a flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system,” De Vos said.
President Jacob Zuma has set up a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the shootings, the deadliest police action since the end of apartheid.
The Lonmin mine remains closed with talks between management and workers due to resume next week.
To contact the reporter on this story: Sikonathi Mantshantsha in Johannesburg at sikonathim@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

Angola Polls Open as Dos Santos Expected to Return


Angolans went to the polls to choose their president for the first time in two decades with a booming oil economy and a divided opposition expected to help Jose Eduardo dos Santos extend his 32-year rule.
Dos Santos’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola is expected to easily win the most seats in the 220-member legislature and earn the right to name the president of Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, according to analysts at Chatham House and Global Insight. The MPLA won 82 percent four years ago in the first election since a 27-year civil war ended in 2002. The last vote for president was a direct ballot in 1992.
The MPLA, under the slogan “Angola, growing more and distributing better,” pledged to maintain the stability it credits for spurring an economy that may expand 6.8 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, and promised to ease some of the world’s most severe poverty.
“We’re confident,” Dos Santos, 70, said after voting at a private college outside his palace in the Cidade Alta section of Luanda, the capital. He emerged from the polling station flashing a V-sign with his wife and was joined by Antonio Jose Maria, the chief of military intelligence, and Manuel Helder Vieira Dias, a top military adviser known as Kopelipa.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. local time and are due to close at 6 p.m. Some voting stations opened a half hour later than scheduled and there were no incidents of disturbances, according to Angolan National Radio.

Oil Producer

Angola pumps about 1.8 million barrels of crude a day, supplying 2.9 percent of U.S. imported oil in May and 16 percent of China’s as of July, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Oil producers operating in the country include Exxonmobil Corp. (XOM), Chevron Corp. (CVX), BP Plc (BP/) and Total SA. (FP)
Isaias Samakuva, leader of the main opposition party, the former rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, criticized the conduct of the election and said he may seek court action after voting at a university in Luanda’s south.
“We would like to have a better organized process,” he told reporters. “The experiences of 1992 and 2008 convinced us that we can do an alternative to this confused process.”
In Luanda province, the most populous of 18 in the southwest African country, 2,700 Unita vote monitors weren’t accredited, including at the polling station where Samakuva cast his ballot, he said. Yesterday he asked for Dos Santos to postpone the election because of “irregularities.” The president and the MPLA didn’t reply.

Vice President

Dos Santos’s running mate is Manuel Domingos Vicente, former chairman of the national oil company, Sonangol EP, who was chosen over more senior MPLA members.
“The real challenge is within the party and not with the opposition parties,” Markus Weimer, coordinator of the Angola Forum at Chatham House, a London-based research group, said Aug. 27 by phone. “It’s more about the internal party dynamics.”
The African Union, the Southern Africa Development Community and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries are the only international groups with election monitors, Elias Isaac, country director for the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa, a pro-democracy group funded by George Soros, said by phone in Luanda.

Vote Monitors

Groups such as Human Rights Watch and Open Society haven’t been allowed to send monitors, Isaac said, while accreditation for several embassies was delayed.
Julia Ferreira, a spokeswoman for the commission, attributed the delays to late submission of documents.
The commission has approved almost 98,000 polling station monitors from political parties across the country, Ferreira told the Angola Press news agency yesterday.
Human Rights Watch described the atmosphere around the vote as “one of increasing restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly and media freedom.”
Public discontent with the president and the government spilled onto the streets of Luanda this year as mainly young protesters pushed for democracy and an end to corruption.


Casa-Ce, an offshoot of Unita led by Abel Chivukuvuku, said yesterday police detained more than 10 of the party’s youth wing, including its leader, Rafael Aguiar. The group had planned to hold a vigil to protest a lack of accreditation for party delegates to monitor polling, according to its website.
Unita campaigned about the failure of Angola’s oil wealth, which increased foreign reserves to a record $30.2 billion in June, to cut poverty and unemployment.
More than half the population of about 19 million is under 18, while 54 percent of the country lived on less than $1.25 in 2009, according to United Nations Children’s Fund. Transparency International ranked Angola at 168 of 182 countries in its 2011 corruption index.
“Angola is very much a two-tiered system where you have, on the one hand, the offshore economy with oil revenue coming in and financial services in a sort of boom town, and on the other side there’s poverty,” Weimer said. “It’s obvious there’s a massive difference between rich and poor.”
Luanda has about five million residents, many living in slums of concrete blocks, dirt floors and open sewage drains. It’s also the world’s second-most expensive city for expatriates, according to the Mercer LCC Cost of Living Index.
Angola’s life expectancy is 47 years, according to the World Bank. The under-5 mortality rate is the world’s eighth highest at 161 deaths per 1,000 children, according to Unicef.
Angola’s oil wealth ensures that the government isn’t too concerned about international criticism of its rights record, said Sebastian Boe, an analyst at IHS Global Insight in London.
“The government is comfortable in the calculation that Angolan oil production precludes significant reprisals or sanctions,” Boe said in an e-mail.
To contact the reporters on this story: Colin McClelland in Toronto at cmcclelland1@bloomberg.net; Candido Mendes in Luanda at cmendes6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

Congo Brazzaville : les sinistrés du 4 mars toujours dans l'incertitude

Congo Brazzaville
par Marien Nzikou-Massala, Anne Perrin

(Syfia Congo Brazzaville) Plus de trois semaines après l'explosion d'un dépôt de munitions en plein cœur de Brazzaville, les sinistrés vivent toujours dans des conditions très précaires. Et tout risque de nouvelles explosions n'est pas exclu.
Dimanche 4 mars, cinq détonations, d'une violence inouïe réveillent en sursaut les Brazzavillois. Tous les systèmes d’information (téléphone, télévision, radio) sont immédiatement coupés. La République du Congo, encore traumatisé par la guerre des années 1990, est plongée dans la peur et les rumeurs de coup d'Etat. Les 1,37 million d'habitants de la capitale finissent par apprendre qu'un dépôt de munitions, situé en plein cœur de leur ville, a explosé, coûtant officiellement la vie à 282 personnes et en blessant plus de 2 300 autres. Mpila, le quartier touché, est à terre, soufflé par l'explosion. Des milliers de sans-abri se réfugient en hâte dans différents centres d'accueil.
Trois semaines après, le calme semble être revenu dans la ville. L’aide nationale et internationale continue de parvenir au ministère des Affaires sociales, mais sa redistribution pose par endroits des problèmes. Les chefs de quartiers, de zones et de blocs recensent actuellement les sinistrés, afin que ceux-ci soient indemnisés. Pour l'heure, le montant que chaque famille éprouvée devrait recevoir n'a pas encore été fixé par le gouvernement, qui se dit soucieux de ne pas prendre de "décisions unilatérales".
A la cathédrale Sacré Cœur, un des centres d'accueil réputés les mieux organisés, les réfugiés dorment sous des tentes ou à ciel ouvert, sur des matelas posés à même le sol. Des enfants jouent ça et là. Les vêtements sèchent où ils peuvent… Une équipe de gendarmerie a été déployée pour mettre de l’ordre, car certains se faisaient passer pour des sinistrés, afin de recevoir des vivres et des dons. Jean Ndzinga Basongo, réfugié ici dès le 5 mars témoigne : "Au début, les religieuses géraient et distribuaient les vivres, mais, depuis que c'est le ministère qui s'en charge, il nous arrive de ne pas avoir de nourriture." Le camp est par ailleurs dépourvu d’installations sanitaires : ni toilettes, ni douches. Les pluies, fréquentes en cette saison, rendent le quotidien plus difficile encore. Les risques d'épidémies, comme le choléra, liées à la saleté sont présents dans tous les esprits.

Précautions et questions
A Mpila, sur le site de l'explosion, près de 8,5 tonnes de munitions et engins explosifs auraient déjà été détruites. Financée par l’Union Européenne (UE), la mission de l’ONG britannique Mines Advisory Group (MAG) estime toutefois que cette dépollution "prendra des mois, peut-être des années". Elle demande donc à la population de "ne pas rentrer sur le site" et de "ne pas toucher aux munitions". Le risque d'explosion étant encore, selon elle, "très important".
Le président Denis Sassou Nguesso a annoncé l'installation à l'avenir de ce type de dépôts à l'extérieur de la ville et la mise en place d'une commission d'enquête. Plusieurs questions restent en effet en suspens. Comment un court-circuit a-t-il pu se produire dans un dépôt de munitions ? Les dépôts d'armes ne sont-ils pas soumis à des normes de sécurité spécifiques ?
Le comportement de la plupart des médias occidentaux pose aussi question… Ainsi, si la communauté internationale, Union africaine en tête, a réagi et rapidement fait preuve de solidarité, les TV, radios et journaux français ont quasiment ignoré cette tragédie, n'y consacrant pour la plupart que de courtes brèves. Les massacres d'éléphants au Cameroun avaient fait, eux, la une du Monde...

AFRICA. Intervention in Eastern Congo a Rising Priority for Activists

By Carey L. BironIps Africa
As the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to deteriorate in the wake of an armed rebellion that began in April, some activists have strengthened calls for foreign military intervention.
“The idea of an international force has divided us, but we have decided that there is indeed a need for a military force in the region,” Baudoin Hamuli Kabarhuza, national coordinator with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, told a panel discussion here on Wednesday, speaking from Kinshasa.
Kabarhuza stipulated that such a force would need to be international and under the auspices of both the African Union and the United Nations.
The issue is also currently being debated within the U.S. government.
“Is there a military solution to this problem? Can we effect a military change on the ground militarily to change a political outcome?” Steven Koutsis, acting director of the Office of Central African Affairs in the U.S. State Department, said on Wednesday. “If you boil everything down, that is the question we are discussing within the U.S. government and with our partners.”
Since April, eastern Congo has been increasingly torn apart by rebels that have specifically targeted civilian populations. Taking advantage of desertions among the Congolese armed forces in the spring, multiple armed groups have launched a series of bloody sectarian attacks.
At least one of these groups, known as the M23, accuses the Kinshasa government of violating a 2009 peace agreement with Rwanda. According to a U.N. report released in June as well as multiple other sources, the M23 is receiving support directly from the Rwandan government.
While there is currently an unofficial cessation in fighting between the M23 and the DRC government, there is no ceasefire agreement and no monitoring is taking place.
Meanwhile, according to Koutsis, “Both sides are reinforcing their positions, and if for some reason the ceasefire fails, the return to military action would be much more violent than we’ve seen so far.”
According to the U.N.’s refugee agency, more than 470,000 Congolese have fled their homes since April.

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On Wednesday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted the “sheer viciousness” of the violence, stating, “In some cases, the attacks against civilians may constitute crimes against humanity.”
Most capable force?
The United Nations itself already has a military contingent operating in Congo, an 18,000-strong peacekeeping force known as MONUSCO. But this “stabilisation mission” has come under increased criticism for a perceived failure to protect civilians.
“We are facing, again, a fundamental humanitarian crisis in eastern Congo, and thus far the international community, and in particular MONUSCO, have not taken the action essential to bring it to a rapid end,” Mark Schneider, a senior vice president with the International Crisis Group, a watchdog organisation, said in Washington on Wednesday.
“We believe that unless there’s more demonstrated willingness by MONUSCO to use its forces in a more robust manner within its mandate, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to be able to get the political backing that’s necessary.”
While there are differences in perception over exactly what MONUSCO’s mandate allows for, and thus to what extent it would be able to unilaterally confront the armed groups in eastern Congo, Schneider suggested the issue is fairly clear.
“There is substantial authorisation for MONUSCO to give the protection of civilians top priority – this is not an offensive action, but rather is designed to protect civilians,” he said.
“MONUSCO is a capable military force if it is directed to carry out the mission. Yet in the DRC, the people cannot understand why the most capable military force in the country is unwilling to use its firepower to implement its mandate.”
At the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC, Roger Meece, underlined the priority that MONUSCO places on civilian protection. Yet he also characterised the “deterioration of the overall security situation” in parts of eastern Congo as “extremely alarming”.
Time for durable peace
The Security Council meeting was convened to discuss the Rwandan government’s continuing support for certain armed groups operating in eastern Congo.
On Wednesday, citing the unique relationship between the United States and the Rwandan government, Kabarhuza repeatedly called on the United States to step up its engagement in Congo.
For the past two decades, Washington has been a major financial backer of the Rwandan government. The United States also provides more than a quarter of the budget for MONUSCO.
The international community must call on the DRC’s neighbours, Kabarhuza said. At the same time, “America has an important role to play in the region, as it has a good relationship with the DRC government as well as with Rwanda and Uganda.”
“We are fed up with war; we are fed up with suffering. It’s time for the international community to support durable peace here.”
While Washington has made clear its determination to assist the Congolese government in fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army, which operates in four central African countries, Kabarhuza said that U.S. officials as yet have “said nothing” about the armed groups’ fuelling violence in eastern Congo, particularly the DRC-based Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group associated with the 1994 anti-Tutsi genocide.
Following speculation that the U.S. government sought to hold up the June publication of the U.N. report for including critical reference to Rwanda’s continued support of rebels in the eastern DRC, Washington did in fact withhold a token amount of funding, around 200,000 dollars, from the Rwandan government.
But on Wednesday, the State Department’s Koutsis expressed frustration with the U.S. government’s failure so far to significantly sway the Rwandan government’s actions.
“What do you do when you have a partner and it does something that’s so against what we see as our interests and the interests of other partners and the interests of its neighbours? How do you convince that country to change its policies?” Koutsis asked.
“Sure, we’ve made some strong statements and done some actions against Rwanda, but ultimately we need to try to convince Rwanda that it’s not in its own interests to continue” to support the M23, he concluded.

Iranian FM Urges Red Cross to Pursue Fate of Kidnapped Iranians in Syria

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi asked President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer to follow up on the fate of the abducted Iranian nationals in Syria and other world countries, given the humanitarian duties of the ICRC.


At the meeting held on the sidelines of the 16th Heads-of-State Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) here in Tehran on Friday, the two officials exchanged views on mutual cooperation.

Salehi underlined the necessity of pursuing Iran's kidnapped citizens in Syria and other world regions by the ICRC, and laid emphasis on continued cooperation between Iran and the ICRC.

Maurer, for his part, voiced his organization's preparedness to continue cooperation with Iran and launch comprehensive efforts to follow up on the conditions and fate of the Iranian nationals abducted in different world countries.

48 Iranian pilgrims were abducted in Syria last month, while 7 Iranian aid workers were kidnapped in Libya a month earlier.

While the 7 aid workers are reportedly in good health conditions and spoke with their families just this morning and after two months, there are still no reliable report on the fate of the 48 pilgrims kidnapped in Syria.

The Libyan Red Crescent said in a statement that armed men have kidnapped a seven-member delegation from the Iranian Red Crescent visiting Benghazi.

The Iranians were heading to the Tibesti hotel when an armed group intercepted them.

They were loaded into a different car and whisked away to an unknown location, the statement added.

The driver of the vehicle, a local volunteer, was not taken.

AFRICA: Post-feminist never

“I’ll Be A Post-Feminist In A Post-Patriarchy”. This slogan sums up my most generous attitude towards ‘post-feminism.’ But even if we get to a post-patriarchy we’ll still need to be feminists to make sure we stay there. So actually I’ll be a post-feminist never.
I think it wasn’t clear in my first post so I’ll say unequivocally that I do not advocate or believe in post-feminism anywhere, particularly in Africa. I think post-feminism is a lie and one of the things it does is silence feminism and social critique. But one of the questions my research is asking is whether post-feminist ideas have some traction amongst women of a certain class in Nigeria, as paradoxical as this may be. I think the answer is yes.
By post-feminism I mean the kinds the ideas we hear mostly in Western media, popular and even political discourse, that women are now ‘free’ and ‘empowered,’ so we can now ‘have it all,’ we can now be ‘up for it’ like men, we can now ‘choose’ whatever we want. ‘Girls rule the world’ as Beyonce has told us. This can be rather hectic so we must remember to pamper ourselves at one fabulous spa or another, express our girl power by buying this makeup or that short skirt, and rejuvenate ourselves with this or that face cream or face lift ‘because we are worth it.’
Of course in the West these kinds of discourses implicitly talk to only certain kinds of women – middle-class, White, educated, heterosexual, size 10-12, with disposable income. A token black woman or two may be allowed in. Also implicit is feminism, how women got so ‘free,’ but let’s conveniently forget about that, we don’t need it anymore anyway…
Post-feminism as I understand it is neoliberal, it is individualistic, it is consumerist. In response to critique it says ‘choice.’ In Nigeria I felt like I began to hear such discourses among girl friends and peers and in the new women’s magazines and websites, so that’s where my research questions began to emerge. But when I looked at feminist literature on post-feminism, written mostly from the UK and the States, there was little recognition that post-feminism is global, not just Western and white, so it’s become another angle of my research to speak to this literature.

By Simi DosekunBlack Looks

Angola: Elections and Beyond

At the weekend the country’s National Electoral Commission (CNE) rejected opposition parties’ complaints and requests to postpone the elections for a month. The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), under the leadership of Isaias Samakuva, criticised the CNE as being incompetent and biased in favour of the ruling party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).
It requested that the method used to count votes specifically in Luanda, the capital, be reviewed, looking at voter registration.
The Electoral Register Central Database (FICRE) that was handed over to the CNE by the Ministry for Territorial Administration (MAT) on 15 May contains the details of more than 9,7 million voters. By law, the CNE should have registered voters, but the MPLA, in power for nearly 37 years, circumvented the constitution and electoral laws and allowed MAT, headed by MPLA politburo member Bornito de Sousa, to undertake the job without public scrutiny.
Predictably, opposition parties have decried alleged widespread fraud in the registration process.
Despite the dissatisfaction of the opposition parties, Angolans will head to polls on 31 August, for the second time since the end of the war, to elect 220 deputies to the National Assembly known as Assembleia Nacional.
Of the current deputies serving in the unicameral body, 130 are elected at large while five are elected to represent each of Angola’s 18 provinces. Five political parties and four coalitions will contest the parliamentary elections. The MPLA and the main opposition UNITA, as well as three other parties – the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), the Party for Social Renovation (PRS) and New Democracy (ND) – were cleared by the Constitutional Court to take part.
The new opposition coalition Broad Convergence for Angola’s Salvation-Electoral Coalition (CASA-CE), which was founded last March after its leader Abel Chivukuvuku lost the UNITA leadership election to Samakuva, is one of the four coalitions that will participate in the election. The Court rejected applications from 18 other political bodies. The three parties expected to get the most votes are the MPLA, UNITA, and CASA.
A 2010 amendment to Angola’s constitution means that there will be no direct presidential election. The first name (leader of) on the list of the winning party in the parliamentary election – President dos Santos in the case of the MPLA – will become president. The polls are almost certain to re-elect President dos Santos, whose 33 years in power make him Africa’s second-longest ruling leader after Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
Angola held its first legislative elections after the ceasefire was brokered on 5 September 2008. President dos Santos’ MPLA won 81,6 per cent of the vote, giving the party 191 out of 220 seats in the Assembleia Nacional. The MPLA’s victory was largely accepted by most members of the opposition and the remaining 29 seats were distributed as follows: UNITA 16, the Social Renewal Party (PRS) 8, National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) 3, and the New Democracy (ND) coalition 2. Political analysts say UNITA could raise its share of the vote to about 15 per cent.
The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), led by Tanzania as the current chair of the SADC organ on politics, will deploy an observer mission to monitor the transparency of the elections. South Africa has indicated, in a statement released by the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, that it will send 48 observers, including members of Parliament, civil society and the government, as part of the SADC observer mission. This observer mission is being deployed to Angola at the invitation of the Angolan government to ensure the elections are peaceful.
Set against the backdrop of opposition complaints, there are concerns that the late deployment of the mission means that SADC missed an opportunity to ensure that Angola’s elections are held in conformity with regional standards for democratic electoral processes.
Although MPLA is assured a win in the upcoming elections, growing dissent due to allegations of mismanagement of government funds, high levels of unemployment, over-reliance on the oil industry and the uncertainty over its leadership succession are some of the key issues that it will have to address to ensure stability in the country.
While the MPLA airs video adverts listing its achievements – 2 700km of railway, 148 railway stations, 10 renovated airports, 400 bridges, 6 500km of roads – vast segments of the population do not have access to basic infrastructure. For example, 13,7 million Angolans out of a total population of about 20-25 million reportedly do not have access to electricity. The MPLA will need to facilitate socio-economic development in order to end widespread unemployment, poverty and inequality and so stem social unrest. Significantly, the ruling party is aware of the need to trickle down the county’s oil wealth, as evidenced by the party’s campaign slogan ‘Grow More, Distribute Better’.

Source: Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane/Pretoria)
For more information: http://allafrica.com/angola/

Manama confident Tehran ties will improve


Foreign ministers hold rare public meeting to discuss bilateral relations
  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

Manama: The foreign ministers of Bahrain and Iran have held a meeting in rare public direct contact since their diplomatic relations plummeted in March last year.
The meeting between Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa and Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran covered the agenda of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, with both leaders stressing the significance of reinforcing the movement, enhancing its work and fulfilling the interests of the member countries, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.
The meeting also covered bilateral relations and ways to improve them for the sake of both countries, the official news agency said.
In Iran, the media reported that Shaikh Khalid said that Bahrain was optimistic about relations between Manama and Tehran and that the history of their bilateral ties is well known and that they have been transparent for decades.
Shaikh Khalid reportedly said that both capitals have been able throughout the years to overcome “issues” and expressed confidence that “it will be the case this time as well”.
The Bahraini minister is heading his country’s delegation to the 16th summit of the movement.
Manama this month reinstated its ambassador its Tehran following a 17-month absence.
“The ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Islamic Republic of Iran has returned to his work in Tehran,” Shaikh Khalifa said on his Twitter account.
The minister did not elaborate on the issue, but he added that it was “in line with other sisterly countries”.
Manama recalled its ambassador, Rashid Al Dossary, on March 15, 2011 after it accused Tehran of “blatant interference in Bahrain’s domestic affairs”.
Iran had criticised the arrival of troops from the Peninsula Shield, the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), in Bahrain.
The Iranian stance and its criticism of the GCC states, particularly Saudi Arabia, were also rejected by the six-member council.
Tehran recalled its envoy in Manama in a tit-for-tat move a day after the Bahraini envoy was summoned home.
However, Tehran has not asked its top diplomat in Manama to resume his work in the Bahraini capital even though the embassy has remained open.

Iran nuclear crisis: Fordo capacity doubled - IAEA


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, says Iran has doubled production capacity at the Fordo nuclear site.

The latest IAEA quarterly report also said Iran had "significantly hampered" the agency's ability to inspect the Parchin military site.
Iran has produced 189kg (417 lb) of higher-grade enriched uranium since 2010, it added.
Iran denies its nuclear programme has any military aspect.
The number of enrichment centrifuges at Fordo, at a facility buried deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom, had more than doubled to 2,140 from 1,064 in May, the IAEA said.
However, the new machines were not yet operating, it said.
Iran says the aim of the Fordo site is to enrich uranium for civilian use up to a maximum of 20%.
In May, UN nuclear inspectors found traces of uranium enriched at 27% at the site, but Iran said those readings could be accidental.
Analysts say 27% would bring Iran closer to making weapons-grade uranium.
Although the new centrifuges are not yet operating, their installation will worry Israel, says the BBC's James Reynolds.
The Israeli government fears that Iran is developing its nuclear capabilities in a location which may be safe from Israeli air strikes.
In Thursday's report, the IAEA also said the Parchin site had been "sanitised" and that Iran had "been conducting activities at that location that will significantly hamper the agency's ability to conduct effective verification", if inspectors were granted access.
The Parchin site is suspected of being used for experiments related to nuclear weapons.
The overall Parchin complex is one of Iran's leading munitions centres - for the research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and high explosives.
Iran says it needs nuclear material for energy and medical needs.
But in this report, the IAEA concludes that it is unable to say that all nuclear material in Iran is for peaceful activities, our correspondent says.


Rachel Corrie: Court rules Israel not at fault for death


An Israeli court has ruled that the state of Israel was not at fault for the death of US activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli army bulldozer in 2003.
Ms Corrie's family had brought a civil claim for negligence against the Israeli ministry of defence.
The judge said the 23-year-old's death was a "regrettable accident".
He said the state was not responsible for any "damages caused" as they had occurred during "war-time actions".
Judge Oded Gershon, presiding at the court in the town of Haifa, said Ms Corrie had been protecting terrorists in a designated combat zone.
He said the bulldozer driver had not seen her, adding the soldiers had done their utmost to keep people away from the site. "She [Corrie] did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done."
He ruled the state of Israel did not have to pay any damages. The Corries had requested a symbolic $1 in damages and legal expenses.
They had accused Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their daughter, and failing to conduct a full and credible investigation.
An Israeli army investigation in 2003 concluded its forces were not to blame for Ms Corrie's death.
Ms Corrie's parents, Cindy and Craig, who had once again made the long trip to Israel from the US to pursue their case, looked dejected after the ruling was read out, says the BBC's Jon Donnison in Haifa.
"I am hurt," Cindy Craig told reporters after the verdict was read.
The family's lawyer has said they will appeal against the ruling to Israel's supreme court.
Human shields
Ms Corrie was a committed peace activist even before her arrival in the Gaza Strip in 2002.
She arranged peace events in her home town in Washington State and became a volunteer for the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
In 2003, Ms Corrie was in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip as part of a group of ISM protesters.
They were acting as human shields to try to stop the Israeli army demolishing Palestinian homes and clearing land around Rafah.
The Israeli army argued the area was being used by militants and that the protesters should not have been in a closed military zone.
The army's investigation found that Ms Corrie was not visible and that she was killed by debris falling on her.
But Ms Corrie's supporters say it is impossible that the bulldozer driver did not see her.
Pictures taken on the day Ms Corrie died show her in an orange high-visibility jacket carrying a megaphone and blocking the path of an Israeli military bulldozer.
A collection of Ms Corrie's writings was turned into a play - My Name Is Rachel Corrie - which has toured all over the world, including Israel and the Palestinian territories.
An aid ship intercepted by the Israeli military in 2010 while trying to break the blockade of Gaza was named after her.

UK police arrest anti-Al Khalifa protesters

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The meeting between Cameron and the Bahraini ruler comes amid condemnation raised against the Bahraini regime for its brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
It is the third time Cameron has met with the Bahraini ruler as the British prime minister. During the last meeting at the end of last year, Cameron pledged that Britain would support the implementation of reforms in Bahrain.
However, their meeting on Thursday 23 August comes less than a week after the Bahraini regime’s forces beat a 16-year-old boy to death.
Scores of protesters have been killed by the Bahraini regime since anti-regime protests started in the Persian Gulf country in February 2011.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has said that Britain should “not stand idly by while Bahrain proceeds to lock up its dissidents”.

Petrol bombs thrown at Bahrain police station

Security forces repel attack, launch search for culprits
  • afp

Dubai: A mob attacked a police station outside Manama with petrol bombs, police said late on Saturday, as sporadic protests intensify in Bahrain.
“Some 150 people attacked with Molotov cocktails” in the Shiite village of Sitra, provincial police said in a statement carried by the official BNA news agency. Security forces “managed to repel the attack by a group of terrorists” and arrested the driver of a car “carrying a large number of petrol bombs ready for use”, the police statement said. One police officer was lightly injured in the attack, it said, adding that security forces were searching for the culprits.
It was not immediately clear if the attack on the police station followed an anti-government demonstration in Sitra. On August 18, a 16-year-old protester died after what opposition activists in Bahrain said was a “brutal attack” by security forces, but the Bahrain government described it as a defensive response to a petrol bomb attack on police. The government identified the dead youth as Hussam Al Haddad, and said he had been among protesters throwing petrol bombs at police and had died after being taken to hospital.
The opposition Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said witnesses claimed it had seen security forces firing gunshot pellets at Al Haddad before men in plainclothes kicked him repeatedly as he lay on the ground while police stood by.

Unicredit 'in US Iran sanctions breach investigation'


Unicredit has confirmed it is co-operating with a US investigation into a possible breach of sanctions.
The bank is thought to have broken sanctions against Iran, according to reports by the Financial Times and Reuters, although this has not been confirmed by Unicredit.
The probe centres on a German subsidiary, HypoVereinsbank, which the major Italian bank bought in 2005.
The news follows similar revelations about two UK banks.
Unicredit originally admitted in January as part of a regulatory filing that it was working with US authorities over a sanctions breach, but without naming the country involved.
"A member of the Unicredit group is currently responding to a third party witness subpoena from the New York County District Attorney's Office in connection with an ongoing investigation regarding certain persons and/or entities believed to have engaged in sanctionable activities," the January filing said.
According to Unicredit's latest statement, which does not name Iran either, the investigation is also being conducted by the US Department of Justice.
Other banks
Last month the US Senate released a report detailing how HSBC helped launder money for Iran, as well as for other US-sanctioned governments of Burma and North Korea and for Mexican drugs cartels.
Then, earlier this month, Standard Chartered Bank - which is headquartered in London, but mainly active in the Middle East, Africa and Asia - agreed to pay New York regulators $340m (£217m) to settle claims that it had concealed $250bn in transactions with Iran.
Meanwhile, Royal Bank of Scotland is also understood to be facing investigations into whether it has broken sanctions against Iran.
The bank would not comment, but confirmed that it had voluntarily approached US and UK officials with information after an internal inquiry uncovered possible infringements.
Germany's Commerzbank also warned last week that it may have to make a hefty payment to settle a US investigation into its own violations of sanctions on Iran and other countries.
Press reports earlier this month suggested that another German bank, Deutsche Bank, is also being investigated by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Federal Reserve, the US Justice Department and Manhattan's district attorney's office for alleged infringements of US-Iran economic sanctions.
Deutsche Bank refused to comment on the reports.
Sanctions regime
Iran has been subject to US economic sanctions since 1979. The current system operates under the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The sanctions were toughened in 1997 by then-President Bill Clinton, who signed an order for sanctions that prohibited "virtually all trade and investment activities with Iran by US persons, wherever located".
Under US criminal law, violations of the Iranian Transactions Regulations may result in a fine up to $1m and/or jail for up to 20 years.
As part of the sanctions regime, until 2008, banks in the US in some circumstances were allowed to undertake so-called U-turn transactions with Iranian financial institutions.
Those U-turn transactions move money for Iranian clients among non-Iranian foreign banks, such as those in the UK and the Middle East. They are cleared through the US, but neither start nor end in Iran.
To ascertain whether these transactions are permitted, US clearing banks use the wire-transfer messages they get from banks, using the SWIFT payments system.
If the banks do not have enough information to make the call, they are supposed to freeze the assets.
The allegations involving Standard Chartered and HSBC both centred on U-turn transactions.
Standard Chartered was accused of stripping the messages of data that showed the clients were Iranian, replacing it with false entries.
The UK-based bank said that not only did "99.9% of the transactions" relating to Iran comply with U-turn regulations, but that the total value of transactions that did not comply was under $14m - converse to the $250bn worth of Iran transactions US regulators said it had hidden.
In July, a US Senate Committee found that HSBC carried out 25,000 transactions totalling $19bn that were connected to Iran between 2001-07, which it suggested was evidence that the bank may have broken economic sanctions.


Police Patrol under Terrorist Attack

Manama, Aug. 18. (BNA) – A police patrol was the victim of a terrorist attack at 9:30 pm on Friday when a group of thugs hurled on it a great number of Molotov cocktails while on duty in the highly-crowded Khalifa Al Kabeer Road, putting the lives of its members and those of the citizens and residents, as well as their property at risk.

Members of the patrol were hit, citizens and residents panicked and private and public property was damaged, which urged police officers to use the legal means required in such cases to defend themselves and the citizens.

In the process, one of the terrorist attackers was hit and was taken to hospital where he died later.

Such act is a terrorist one as the attackers hurled Molotov cocktail with a clear purpose to kill the members of the police patrol and spread terror and panic among citizens and residents.

The case has already been entrusted to the judicial authority and Investigation into the circumstances of the incident are still underway.

The government, along with the Public Prosecution, is resolved to reach the truth and will not tolerate any one found guilty of violating the law, either terrorists, saboteurs or police officers, as all are equal before the law.


38 International NGOs: Release Bahraini human rights activists NOW

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - 17 August 2012 – As international human rights groups, we call on member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council who participated in Bahrain's Universal Periodic Review in May 2012 to urge Bahrain to release human rights defenders and peaceful opposition activists, who have been subjected to constant harassment by security forces and the courts for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
We call first of all for the immediate release of leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, after a court sentenced him on 16 August to three years' imprisonment in relation to three cases brought against him for calling for and participating in peaceful gatherings that the government deems “illegal”. On the same day, an appeals court postponed again the appeals verdict in connection with a separate case in which Rajab was sentenced to three months in prison for “tweeting” that the prime minister should resign, for which he has been jailed since his re-arrest on 9 July 2012.
Rajab, who has almost 170,000 Twitter followers, is known across Bahrain and internationally for his human rights advocacy. He is President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division. BCHR is a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and this year won the Index on Censorship Free Expression Award and the Human Rights First 2012 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty. Rajab also won the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award.
We also call on member states of the UN HRC, as they did in May 2012 during the UPR, to continue to press Bahrain to follow through on the recommendations made in November 2011 by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), in particular the recommendation to release individuals jailed for peacefully expressing their views. The BICI was mandated by the King to investigate reports of serious human rights violations that occurred after hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets in February 2011 to call for reforms. The BICI report recorded about 300 people arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and noted a culture of impunity in the torture and deaths of people in custody.
Rajab's case is only one of many cases before the courts as the government tries to silence its most vocal critics by keeping them in jail. Human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested on 2 August after she staged a one-woman protest calling for the release of her father, former BCHR President Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. It was her fifth arrest since April 2012. On 4 August, she was accused of tearing a photo of the king at the police station and remains in detention. Her hearing is scheduled for 28 August 2012.
Also this week, the High Criminal Court of Appeal delayed a verdict in the high profile case of 13 political and human rights leaders until 4 September. The 13 men, who include Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and blogger and activist Abdul-Jalil Al-Singace, boycotted the verdict in the absence of a fair trial, during which allegations of confessions under torture were not investigated. They were originally sentenced by military court in June 2011 to between two years and life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution.”
We are among over 100 NGOs who have previously signed a letter calling for the release of all Bahraini human rights defenders, who join Nabeel Rajab's family appeal to the international community, including members of the UN HRC, to press the Bahraini authorities to:
• Immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab, Zainab Al-Khawaja, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Abdul-Jalil Al-Singace and all those jailed for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as recommended by the BICI;
• Suspend and then revoke the use of penal code articles that violate the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly;
• Comply with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998, and international human rights treaties and documents ratified by Bahrain, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
International Freedom of Expression Exchange
c/o Annie Game, Executive Director
IFEX Clearing House
555 Richmond St. West, Suite 1101, P.O. Box 407
Toronto, Canada
M5V 3B1
agame (@) ifex.org
Phone: +1 416 515 9622
Fax: +1 416 515 7879
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Centre for Independent Journalism
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
Electronic Frontier Foundation - INTERIM MEMBER
Freedom Forum
Globe International
I'lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel - INTERIM MEMBER
Independent Journalism Center
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression
International Press Institute
Maharat Foundation
Media Foundation for West Africa
Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création
Pakistan Press Foundation
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
PEN American Center
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
South East European Network for the Professionalization of the Media
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Human Rights First
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Bahrain Rehabilitation & Anti Violence Organization (BRAVO)
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Front Line Defenders
International Media Support (IMS)
No Peace Without Justice
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)


Clerics slam Catholic Church construction in Bahrain

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Seventy-one clerics said in a statement that Bahraini rulers should call off the decision.
Last week, the Bahraini Information Affairs Authority announced that construction has begun on the largest Roman Catholic Church in the region.
The church is being built in Awali neighborhood in central Manama on a 9,000-square-meter plot of land.
Bishop Camillo Ballin is to transfer the seat of the Roman Catholic Church's Vicariate of Northern Arabia from Kuwait to Bahrain after the construction of the church.

Gulf Air to resume flights to Iraq, Iran

Airline suspended operations in March 2011
  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

Manama: Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national carrier, will resume its services to Iran and Iraq on September 20, following the Bahrain Government’s approval, the airlin said. 
Flights to Baghdad, Arbil, Najaf and Basra in Iraq and Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz and Isfahan in Iran will begin progressively between September 20 and October 28 subject to final approvals by the civil aviation authorities of both countries.
Gulf Air halted flights to Iraq and Iran in March 2011.
“We are glad to be resuming our operations to Iran and Iraq,” Samer Majali, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer said on Wednesday. “I am sure this will be great news for thousands of Iranians and Iraqis living and working in Bahrain and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries as well as for the business community for whom the direct flights will be a great advantage.”
Gulf Air was the first and only full-service GCC carrier to operate into Baghdad back in 1976.
“Again, we were the first carrier to restart our operations in 2009, which received overwhelming support from travellers with most of our flights flying to full capacity. However we had to suspend the flights in 2011 due to unavoidable circumstances but were confident that we will resume our operations soon. I am glad the time has come and we look forward to the same support from our customers,” Majali said.
Last week, Manama reinstated its ambassador in Tehran after he was recalled last year for consultations. Iran reciprocated by pulling out its top envoy the next day, but has not until now mentioned his return to Bahrain.
Gulf Air, founded in 1950, said that one of its prime objectives was to connect Bahrain to the Middle East countries and the rest of the world.
“As such the airline currently operates the largest network in the Middle East with non-stop flights while providing seamless onward connections to other international destinations. The airline’s current network stretches from Europe to Asia, connecting 48 cities in 30 countries, with a fleet of 39 aircraft,” the company said.

AFRICA: Outbreak of Ebola virus strikes DR Congo town of Isiro


At least one person has died after an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials say.

The death is one of two cases of the virus discovered in the town of Isiro.
Medical charity workers say they are attempting to find and isolate anyone who has been in contact with those infected by the virus.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says the strain is not the same as the kind found recently in neighbouring Uganda.
At least 16 people died during an outbreak there last month.
The DR Congo outbreak occurred in Oriental province, which shares a border with Uganda.
"There is no link between both epidemics at this moment," Anja de Weggheleire, of MSF, told the BBC.
She added that there may be more cases that have yet to be detected.
"Not every person who develops the disease will develop clear symptoms that are recognised as Ebola. For the moment it seems that there are not that many cases but the exact number of cases is unknown."
Experts fear that the town's position as a transit point could make an outbreak more challenging to control.
The virus, which is transmitted to humans from both monkeys and birds, causes massive internal bleeding and has a very high mortality rate.
It is one of the most virulent diseases in the world and is spread by close personal contact.
There is no vaccine for the virus and symptoms of infection include a sudden onset of fever, weakness, headache, vomiting and kidney problems.

Teenage boy killed in clash with police in Bahrain


Police in Bahrain have claimed self-defence after a youth of 16 was killed during a riot but the opposition say he was kicked on the ground.

The Gulf state's interior ministry said the youth had been among a crowd throwing petrol bombs at police on Friday night, in the Muharraq area.
But the Shia Muslim opposition party al-Wefaq said the boy had been the victim of a "barbaric" attack.
Protests against Bahrain's Sunni Muslim monarchy erupted last year.
The opposition say more than 45 people have been killed in demonstrations since June 2011, when the government lifted martial law.
The latest death came a day after prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was jailed for three years for taking part in "illegal gatherings".
Friday also saw tension in Bahrain as Shia Muslims marked Jerusalem Day in support of Palestinians.
'Brutally attacked'
In a statement to Reuters news agency, the government said: "Terrorists launched petrol bombs at close range, forcing the police to take the necessary actions to defend themselves and innocent bystanders from the potentially lethal attack.
"Despite warning shots by the police the attack continued; so security personnel dealt with the case according to its legal authority."
Police say 700 officers have been injured in riots since martial law was lifted, Reuters reports.
Wefaq said in a statement that Hussam al-Haddad had been "martyred after being brutally attacked".
According to the opposition Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, witnesses saw the security forces firing gunshot pellets at him before men in plainclothes kicked him repeatedly as he lay on the ground while police stood by.
Graphic video was posted online of a pellet-riddled body, said to be that of Hussam al-Haddad, in a hospital room, surrounded by distraught relatives. The video could not be verified independently.
His funeral is said to have passed off peacefully on Saturday.
Shia Muslims, who make up the majority of Bahrain's population, have been pushing for greater rights, arguing that they have been marginalised.
The monarchy denies this and blames unrest on the influence of neighbouring Iran, the region's biggest Shia Muslim state.


Statement by the Spokesperson of EU HR Ashton on the sentencing of Mr Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain

Summary: 16 August 2012, Brussels - The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today:
"High Representative Catherine Ashton has noted with concern the sentencing of Mr Nabeel Rajab to three years in prison for taking part in unauthorised protests in Bahrain.
The High Representative expects that this sentence in Mr Rajab's case will be reconsidered in the appeal process and that the same treatment will be given to all Bahraini citizens who are being tried for charges relating to the exercise of their fundamental freedoms. Fair and impartial justice is a key requirement to overcome the current challenges in Bahrain.
The High Representative urges all components of Bahraini society to contribute to dialogue and national reconciliation in a peaceful and constructive manner, without further delays."
  • Ref: EU12-272EN
  • EU source: 
  • UN forum: 
  • Date: 16/8/2012

Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab jailed for three years


Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been jailed for three years for taking part in "illegal gatherings".

He is already serving a three-month sentence he received in July over comments on social networking websites.
Mr Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, had previously been detained several times.
He was one of the organisers of pro-democracy protests which have rocked the Gulf kingdom since last February.
Mr Rajab's lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi said three year-long sentences had been handed down on three separate counts.
Mr Jishi said he plans to appeal against the ruling.
Fellow activists immediately condemned the decision, with some members of the protest movement calling for demonstrations on Thursday evening.
Mr Rajab's sentence in July came after prosecutors received complaints that he had libelled residents of the town of Muharraq on Twitter.
He wrote on Twitter, where he has more than 155,000 followers, that Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa should step down, and that Muharraq residents had only welcomed him during a visit because he had offered them subsidies.
Mr Rajab's appeal in that case has been deferred to 23 August, according to Mr Jishi.
Last week, several members of the US Congress wrote to the Bahraini King Hamad al-Khalifa expressing concern over Mr Rajab's case and urging the release of "Bahrainis being held for crimes related to freedom of expression".


Bahrain, oggi il verdetto finale contro i leader del dissenso

amnesty Le persone e la dignitaCorriere della SeraAmnesty International
Libertà di espressione | Ultim’ora: il verdetto è stato ulteriormente  rinviato al 4 settembre.
(Aggiornato alle 12 del 14 agosto)

Questa mattina la Corte d’appello del Bahrain dovrebbe decidere la sorte di 13 attivisti, difensori dei diritti umani e oppositori, tra i principali promotori del movimento che dal febbraio 2011 chiede riforme, democrazia e fine della discriminazione ai danni della maggioranza sciita.
Nei loro confronti, come sanno le lettrici e i lettori di questo blog (e pochi altri, giacché quella del piccolo regno del Golfo persico è una rivolta oscurata e dimenticata), il 22 giugno dello scorso anno un tribunale militare speciale aveva emesso sette condanne all’ergastolo, quattro a 15 anni e due a periodi minori di carcere, in tutti i casi  per meri reati di opinione. Tre mesi dopo, il 28 settembre, in un processo farsa durato pochi minuti, una corte marziale d’appello aveva confermato le condanne.
Grazie alla mobilitazione delle organizzazioni per i diritti umani e alle pressioni di alcuni governi, ma soprattutto allo sciopero della fame durato oltre 100 giorni di Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja (nella foto, insieme a sua figlia Zainab e a Nabeel Rajab, il cui processo per un tweet offensivo contro un ministro dovrebbe svolgersi dopodomani), il 30 aprile di quest’anno la Corte di cassazione ha stabilito che l’appello si sarebbe celebrato di fronte a un tribunale civile.
Nonostante l’estromissione dei giudici militari, anche durante l’attuale processo, iniziato il 22 maggio, non sono mancate le irregolarità: i testimoni della difesa non sono stati chiamati a deporre, le ultime udienze si sono svolte a porte chiuse e non risulta siano state prese in esame né indagate le torture (pestaggi, aggressioni sessuali e altro ancora) denunciate dagli imputati nei primi giorni di carcere, per costringerli a confessare di avere (cito dalla sentenza di primo grado) “costituito un gruppo terroristico per rovesciare il governo reale”.
Intanto, una doppia buona notizia: domenica sono stati scarcerati Jaffer Salman e Ali Hamaidan, che stavano scontando una condanna a due anni, emessa un anno fa, per “assembramento illegale”.

Bahrain delays verdict in protest leaders' retrial


DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain on Tuesday delayed until September 4 a ruling in the retrial of 20 men convicted of leading an uprising, lawyers said, a case under scrutiny from U.S. officials keen for a release of prisoners to help restore calm in a regional ally against Iran.
Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based, has been in turmoil since a protest movement dominated by majority Shi'ite Muslims erupted in February 2011 as part of the wave of popular revolts against repressive dynasties across the Arab world.
The 20 men - including seven being tried in absentia - are believed to be among hundreds who an international rights commission assessed in November had been tortured during a period of martial law imposed to help quell the uprising.
Bahrain's Sunni Muslim ruling family has faced calls from the United States for the release of all those jailed over their political views to defuse destabilizing protests and foster reconciliation and democratic reforms, although Washington has avoided prodding Manama publicly over the protest leaders' case.
"The verdict was delayed to September 4," said Mohammed Al-Jishi, a lawyer for some of the 13 men present in court for an expected reading of verdicts. The ruling kept the men in jail despite calls by protesters and rights groups for their release.
The presiding judge gave no reason for the postponement.
"It looks like the regime can't bring itself to take the hard decisions when it comes to reform and reconciliation," said Brian Dooley, director of the Human Rights Defenders Program at U.S.-based group Human Rights First.
The hearing was attended by a number of foreign diplomats, underlining how the outcome is expected to have a weighty impact on the evolution of the crisis in the Gulf Arab island state.
During the session, angry defendants chanted: "We sacrifice our soul and blood for you, Bahrain". Lawyers said the judge appeared angered by chanting inside the courtroom.
Analysts say the government - long dominated by the Sunni Al Khalifa family - is in a quandary over the case. The men have become popular heroes whose release they fear could reinvigorate the protest movement and demands for reform, centering on a parliament with full powers to legislate and form governments.

In a speech on Tuesday marking the final days of the annual Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said that Bahrain had survived a period of "foreign plots" and was pushing ahead with reforms.
It was not known who he was referring to. Bahrain has accused Shi'ite power Iran of inciting the protests and six men were convicted in May of plotting with Iran to stage attacks. Iran and Bahraini protesters have denied having links.
"During this year we lived arduous circumstances because of those hostile ambitions and foreign plots which never stopped, but we all stood together in the face of those who provoke strife," the king said, according to the state news agency BNA.
"But we are not ignorant of internal problems, which we are sparing no effort to solve... Bahrain has become a country of law, constitution, institutions, separation of powers, democracy and human rights."
The government has initiated some contacts with opposition parties on reforms but no formal public dialogue has transpired.
A spokesman for Wefaq, the leading opposition party, said the king's speech and delay in the verdict showed the government felt it was under little real pressure from Washington.
Bahrain is caught up in regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The presence of U.S. warships helps ensure a free flow of oil exports out of the Gulf, while Tehran has threatened a blockade if its stand-off with Western powers over its disputed nuclear program deteriorates into confrontation.
"Wasting time makes the exit from this conflict much complicated," said Matar Matar, a former Wefaq parliamentarian.
A military court sentenced the 20 uprising leaders last year to terms of up to life in prison. The main charges were "forming a terrorist group with intent to overthrow the system of government" as well as collaboration with a foreign state, a reference to Iran. The defendants denied the charges.
A military appeals court upheld the sentences in September, but a civilian court ordered a retrial in April.
Eight of the 20 men received life sentences, including rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and opposition leaders Hassan Mushaimaa and Abdulwahhab Hussein, who had called for turning the Gulf Arab monarchy into a republic.
Sunni opposition leader Ibrahim Sharif was sentenced to five years. Those tried in absentia include blogger Ali Abdulemam, who was given a 15-year sentence and is in hiding.
London-based Amnesty International said last week it hoped all Bahraini detainees would be released in Tuesday's session, saying they were "prisoners of conscience".

(Editing by Sami Aboudi and Mark Heinrich)


Iran to Participate in OIC Extraordinary Summit in Mecca

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed that an Iranian delegation will take part in the emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Mecca.

Speaking to reporters here in Tehran on Thursday evening, Salehi stated that Iran will attend the OIC meeting to help reduce differences through dialogue.

"By attending the summit, we will express our viewpoints and try to bridge the gaps and narrow the differences through dialog," the Iranian minister stated.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to heal the rifts and reduce the differences, and focus more on joint issues through such talks."

He announced that the Iranian delegation will hold talks with Saudi officials on regional developments.

The summit will be held in the presence of top officials from Muslim countries in Mecca on August 14-15.

Iran Warns of Global Repercussions of Syrian Crisis

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran warned that the ongoing crisis in Syria could have dire consequences for the region and the world if it remains unresolved.

"If the Syria crisis is not managed, its repercussions will affect the region and the world," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said at the end of an international conference on Syria here in Tehran on Thursday evening.

Addressing the closing ceremony, the Iranian minister said over 15 world countries presented their views about the current unrests in Syria, and further praised the active participation of all the 30 states participating in the conference.

He reiterated the vital importance of the Syrian issue, and said its aftermaths are not confined to Syria.

Elaborating on the contents of talks at the Tehran conference, Salehi said participants based their discussions on three axes, which included "rejecting violence, paving the ground for facilitating national dialogue and dispatching humanitarian aids to the Syrian people".

He said the results of the Tehran meeting was mentioned in the final statement.

The international consultative conference on the developments in Syria started in Tehran this afternoon and wrapped up work after several hours of discussions in the evening.

Foreign ministers and envoys of a large number of countries, including Russia, China, Belarus, Mauritania, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Benin, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Oman, Venezuela, Tajikistan, India, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Sudan, Jordan, Tunisia and Palestine as well as the UN envoy to Tehran are present at the conference.

It’s Africa, Africa, Africa in Olympics 800m!

By Mutwiri MutwotaCapital FM (Kenya)
He promised, he delivered and how! David Rudisha, Olympic champion in a world record, his legend cemented forever and Kenya can finally celebrate their second gold medal of London 2012 on one of the best nights in the country’s sporting and indeed any history!
Mark Thursday, August 9, 2012 in your calendars since it is the day that the country’s most recognisable distance runner, 23-year-old Ol Tanki village born Rudisha stopped the clock at an unbelievable 1:40.91 to bag his maiden Olympic title and leave his own 1:41.01 previous record scattered all over the Olympics Stadium.
Compatriot Timothy Kitum ensured Kenya had two athletes in the podium when he ran a huge personal best of 1:42.53 to take bronze behind Botswana’s African champion, Nijel Amos who chased the disappearing legend to the line in a staggering 1:41.73 for silver.
Rudisha’s powerful un-paced two laps to add the only title his glittering CV did not posses will surely rank as one of the most commanding individual displays in Olympic history, as he fulfilled his pledge to gift London 2012 with a moment to cherish.
Pending the usual world governing body IAAF procedures, Rudisha’s jaw-dropping scorching solo gun to tape run will be spoken off for generations to come.
Besides his own benchmark, Norway’s Vebjorn Rodal must have watched in admiration as his previous Olympics record of 1:42.58 set in Atlanta 1996 disappear from the annals of history as Rudisha approached the homestretch with the clock reading 1:41.30 at the 600m mark.
In the end he did not need his trusted rabbit, Sammy Tangui, who led him through the 1:41.09 and 1:41.01 world records he ran in 2010 since he was watching alongside millions of Kenyans who stuck to their television sets to watch it all unfold.
Having tested his running machine without Tangui in running to 1:41.74 and 1:41.54 in New York and Monaco sandwiched between his stunning 1:42.12 altitude record in Nairobi inside a month, the freshly coined Olympics champion knew he was ready for his date with destiny.
From the gun, he was quickly in front, going through the 400m in 49.28 before he opened up, opened up even more and finally, released the blasters to arrive in the line in a time that shattered another barrier in men 800m- that of dipping under 1:41.
So, in summary, Rudisha is the Olympic, World, Continental titleholder and former two-time African gold medallist.
In his slipstream, the ‘second’ race of the night was developing where two time world indoor champion, Abubaker Kaki of Sudan looked set to follow Rudisha to the line as he did in Daegu last year until the final bend when the chasing hound of the talented trio of teenagers homed in for the prey.
First, the Ethiopian who succeeded him in Istanbul, Mohammed Aman, 19, moved past before Botswana’s 18-year-old sensation, Nijel Amos the World Junior and continental crown holder assumed the bridesmaid role to the end.
Meanwhile, the second Kenyan and World Junior silver winner, Kitum came storming through in the homestretch for bronze, just falling short of catching Amos who dipped under the previous ceiling in 800m running, 1:42 for the first time in his young career, a mark Rudisha has now breached a record seven times.
It was a fitting end to the fastest final in Olympics history as the 800m running order was ripped apart and a new generation ushered in.
The marvel of Rudisha, who pumped the air in unbridled delight before receiving the flag and posing next to his new standard before he took his well acclaimed lap of honour had seen the Kenyan become the first competitor in the London 2012 track and field programme to break the world record.
Having promised London 2012 organising committee chairman, Lord Sebastian Coe a memorable show in his event, he not only paid his due but also crafted one of the most enduring legacies of the 30th Olympiad.
“That was simply an unbelievable performance,” LOGOC Chairman Sebastian Coe, himself a former 800m World record holder told IAAF.
“David Rudisha showed supreme physical and mental confidence to run like that in an Olympic final. Instead of just doing enough to win the race he wanted to do something extraordinary and go for the World Record as well. Rudisha’s run will go down in history as one of the greatest Olympic victories. I feel privileged to have witnessed it in London.”
As far as Kenya is concerned, the medal tally reads 2 gold, 2 silver and two bronze, Rudisha adding to Ezekiel Kemboi’s men steeplechase top medal in the tally that counts.
As for Kitum, he was speechless after the race of his life.

Kuwait will not attend Iran forum

MPs warn against participation in meeting to rescue Syrian regime
  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

Manama: Kuwait will not take part in the forum to be hosted by Iran on the developments in Syria. There is no need for a conference that is counter to the international community and the Arab League, a Kuwaiti official said.
“We have informed the Iranians officially about not attending the conference,” Khalid Al Jarallah, the foreign ministry undersecretary, said, quoted by local Arabic daily Al Seyassah.
The Kuwaiti decision not to attend was based on a thorough study of the Iranian invitation and of the objectives of the forum to be held as the Syrian crisis deepens with the regime continuing to kill its people and bombing cities, sources told the newspaper.
“We wonder about the reasons Iran sent out invitations to countries such as Cuba, Bangladesh and India, in addition to Russia and China and some Arab countries like Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon while it ignored other countries,” the sources that the paper did not identity said.
According to Kuwaiti daily Alem Al Yawm, Iran sent out invitations to just three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries — Kuwait, Oman and the UAE — while it ignored Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Quoting government sources, the paper said that Iran was also seeking to divert attention from the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit to be held at the end of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia. The sources said that they expected a low representation by the countries that agreed to take part in the conference.
A Russian foreign ministry official reportedly said that Moscow would be represented by its ambassador to Iran, Levan Dzhagaryan. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hussain Amir Abdullah on Wednesday said the forum would be attended by foreign ministers from countries with regional and international influence. Several Kuwaiti MPs had called upon the government not to attend the forum, claiming that Iran was involved in the Syrian repression.
“The participation of Kuwait in the meeting organised by Iran is rejected,” Waleed Al Tabtabai said. “Iran’s hands are stained with the blood of innocent people and the meeting is being held just to rescue the [Al] Assad regime,” he said.

NSA Bahrain Chief’s Mess Begins Training Future Leaders

Aug. 8, 2012


By Chief (Sel) Mass Communication Specialist (EXW/DV/SW/AW) Shane Tuck

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY, Bahrain (NNS) -- Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, Chief of Naval Personnel, released the fiscal year 2013 active-duty Navy chief petty officer (CPO) selection board results July 31, marking the beginning of a historical passage for 40 CPO selectees assigned to Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain, and tenant commands.
For many Sailors selected, it’s an achievement unparalleled by any other Navy Promotion.
“Initially I was shocked,” said Chief (Sel) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Cliff Frazier. “But soon after I saw my profile sheet and realized it was real, I was extremely humbled.”
Sailors often exemplify the reality that persistence pays off, and that never giving up can lead to achieving your goals.
“With 19 years and 10 months of naval service, I was about to retire,” said Chief (Sel) Yeoman Lashondra Blue, senior selectee for NSA Bahrain. “This is truly a blessing, and I want to thank all of my junior Sailors and mentors that have worked with me to make this joyous time in my career a reality.”
With the excitement of selection comes an expectation of increased responsibility and respect unlike any other military service.
“The Navy holds the rank of chief petty officer in very high regards,” said Master Chief Mark Tomlinson, command master chief of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and this year’s NSA Bahrain Chief Petty Officer Induction Committee chairman. “When you shift your uniform from the old blue to khaki, you’re expected to be the ‘be all and know all.’ There are no anchors with training wheels or rookie anchors; you are the Chief!”
While the season is a time of training for the selectees, it’s also a time for the chief’s mess to polish their leadership skills.
“Induction is a time to fine tune a Sailor’s leadership, communication and coping skills while instilling a refreshed sense of heritage, loyalty and commitment,” said Tomlinson. “It’s a time for ‘genuine chiefs,’ past and present, to learn about the personnel soon to stand beside them and vice versa. We cannot build a chief in six weeks; we merely increase their awareness of the qualities that they already possess.”
This year’s NSA Bahrain induction has a unique aspect to it – U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie Payton.
“I volunteered to take part in the chief petty officer induction process because I happen to be stationed on a Navy base, and I can’t pass up an opportunity like this,” said Payton. “I’m always looking forward to a challenge, and I’m willing to learn new things that will make me a better leader.”
Payton acknowledges the leadership skills she stands to gain by exposing herself to the diversity of a different armed service.
“As a Soldier, this will be the experience of a lifetime,” said Payton. “I'm interested in learning how the leadership styles differ in between our services’ senior enlisted ranks, and the many Navy customs and acronyms.”
NSA Bahrain’s chief petty officer induction is a six-week process that began Aug. 1 and will end with the time-honored tradition of a pinning ceremony, Sept. 13.