#UK: #GCHQ Order’s Destruction of Snowden Files, Hard Drive’s, Memory Cards, Under `Watchful Gaze’ of Surveillance Agency”


#AceNewsServices says `Video Released by Guardian shows   destruction of `Snowden Fles’ on `GCHQ’s’ Orders’

guardian-destroy-snowden-video.siThe Guardian has released a video of the newspaper’s editors destroying hard drives and memory cards with encrypted files leaked by Edward Snowden – under the watchful gaze of experts from GCHQ, the government’s surveillance agency.

It is the first time the footage has been published on-line since The Guardian’s hard drives were demolished on July 20, 2013, in the basement of the newspaper’s London offices.

Three Guardian staff members – deputy editor Paul Johnson, executive director Sheila Fitzsimmons and computer expert David Blishen – are seen taking angle-grinders and drills to the internal components of computers to destroy information on them.

The journalists were watched by two Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) technical experts, named in Guardian’s recent report as“Ian” and “Chris.” They recorded the process on their iPhones.

It took three hours to smash up the computers. The journalists then fed the pieces into the GCHQ-provided degausser high-tech equipment, which destroys magnetic fields and erases data, The Guardian said.

Initially, GCHQ officials wanted to inspect the material before destruction, carry out the operation themselves and take the remnants away. But the Guardian refused to let them.

The classified information was stored on four computers, none of which was ever connected to the Internet or any other network.

The UK government saw the destruction of the computers as a way to stop further publications of leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It gave The Guardian an ultimatum to either hand the Snowden material back, destroy it, or face an injunction. UK Prime Minister David Cameron sent Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood to convey the message.

“We can do this nicely or we can go to law,” Heywood told The Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger during one of their meetings in June and July.

“A lot of people in government think you should be closed down,” he added, The Guardian reported.

Initially reluctant to comply with the government’s demand, The Guardian eventually took the decision to demolish the hard drives with the information on them – as it was seen as the only way to protect the newspaper and its team.

The measure, however, did not stop the flow of #NSA- and #GCHQ- related revelations. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger told government officials that several copies of the secret documents existed, but only one in the UK. It was known that The Guardian’s columnist Glenn Greenwald, who met Snowden in Hong Kong, had leaked material in Rio de Janeiro. There were further copies in the US, according to Rusbridger.

After the destruction of the hard drives, the paper continued to consult with the government before publishing national security stories.

“There were more than 100 interactions with No. 10 Downing Street, the White House and US and UK intelligence agencies,” The Guardian said in a recent report.

The release of the video comes a week before a new book by Guardian correspondent Luke Harding, “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man,” is due to be published.

 

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Russia: Ayshat’s Story: “One Woman’s Fight to Help Other’s to Fight Abuse”


#AceNewsServices says this story is about one woman who was kidnapped and forced into an abusive relationship, forced into marriage and is now trying to help others with their problems, even though she has had a brain tumour! 

This story really moved me when it was sent to my news desk and l first read it!  

Ingush (Ingushetia, Eastern part of Prigorodny...

Ingush (Ingushetia, Eastern part of Prigorodny District, Chechnya and Turkey) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon after the fall of communism, Ayshat (not her real name) was kidnapped by a stranger who wanted to marry her. Such kidnaps are not unusual in ultra-conservative Ingushetia, or in any of the North Caucasus republics. What is rare is Ayshat’s courage in speaking out. She tells the story of her violent marriage, breaking silence in the hope of persuading other women to resist abuse.

Ayshat sits in the small basement office of a women’s NGO in Ingushetia. Pale, determined, articulate, she looks older than her 40 years. With no relatives to support her, she is raising her son alone, on her small income, which is extremely unusual in Ingushetia. Her thick hair is cut fashionably short – also a rarity in Ingushetia, where women pride themselves on their long locks. It had to be cut when she was first treated for a brain tumour. Now she has learned at the hospital that the cancer has returned, and she needs an operation in Moscow which she cannot afford. When she broke down, a kind nurse referred her to this NGO. Ayshat is clear that her tumour is the result of her ex-husband’s violence.

 I’d better start with how I met my – now ex – husband. I was a nurse, working in the resuscitation department. One day a colleague said to me ‘this man’s just back from Barnaul. He’s a great guy, I’d like to introduce you’. I agreed. Next day he turned up, when I was on my shift. We talked. I didn’t like him at all, didn’t like the way he talked or behaved.  I was quite clear – this was not my kind of man. I refused him, politely.  I was about to take my entrance exam for medical school and I had a lot of revising to do. I wanted to study gynaecology.  We only had that one conversation. He seemed to have got the point.

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Next morning, I was on my way home after the night shift when he came up and asked if he could walk with me. I said I’d rather he did not, I thought I’d made my position clear – I was not looking for a husband. Suddenly this car drives up, two men leap out, drag me in, drive me off to Nazran and lock me into this fifth floor flat!

I resisted, of course. Said I’d never agree to marry him. But he took no notice. I did try to escape. I found there was a balcony – the adjoining apartment had one too. I asked my kidnappers, who were keeping guard in the next room, if I could close the door for five minutes. Then I climbed onto the neighbour’s balcony. I thought ‘I’ve done it, got away!’ Imagine – you realise you’re going to have to live with a man you don’t even like! I was in such a state, shaking from head to foot. I banged on the neighbours’ window. But there was no one there.

That was when I understood – no one was going to rescue me. I was going to have to go back. For a moment, standing on that fifth floor balcony, I thought ‘why not just throw myself off?’ I was distraught. I lay down again quickly in case they came to check up on me. When they did, I pretended I was alright. I lay there thinking how to escape. I’d got to, somehow. But I never managed it.

Then the men took me off into the depths of Chechnya, as my relations were all saying ‘Give us back our girl’. They told the elders I was fine with it. The elders said ‘Bring her here, so we can ask her ourselves’. So they thought up this wheeze. They took some other girl – none of my close relations were there, and our clan elders are so distantly connected to me that they wouldn’t have known what I looked like. The elders asked the girl ‘Have you agreed to this?’ She said yes.  And the elders gave their blessing. So they – well, they married me off in my absence.

But the old men suspected something wasn’t right. They demanded the men produce the real bride. My kidnappers were very cunning. They decided to keep me overnight, in the hope they’d be able to win me round. That night they piled on the pressure; stood over me, going on and on in this monotone: ‘Come on, come on. It’ll be fine. He’s a great fellow..’

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In the end, next morning, I gave in. I guess I was just worn out. I felt I was offering myself as a sacrifice. I do that. I’ve been like that since I was a child. It’s done me so much harm. This wanting to please everyone, whatever it costs me.

So that’s how it started, my married life, if that’s what you can call it.

Right away I knew he had problems. For a start, he drank a lot. After they stole me they sat in the next room and drank. The next day there they were again, getting drunk, and the day after. I hated it. But I thought maybe it would pass, that he was drinking because he was so happy.

We were married a week later. This woman from Barnaul came to the wedding. They said she and my husband were old friends. I never suspected a thing. I was very trusting. I believed, still believe, that men and women can be friends. So I welcomed her. I was so young, so inexperienced! But the way she talked, the things she said, breathed jealousy. She hated me. She’d say to my husband, sarcastically: ’Look what a beauty you’ve chosen!’ She even tried undressing me! ‘Let me see your breasts, your legs – my, what a girl!’ If I’d been more experienced I’d have realised she was his lover. I was surprised. But I didn’t suspect a thing. …

A few days later we all went to Barnaul, this lover, my husband. Me. That’s where my married life began. Awful it was. His lover wouldn’t leave him alone. She was always picking fights – even when I was there. I was so naive – even then I didn’t realise they were lovers. And because she was always on at him, he’d lash out at me.

She’d be there every day, asking me these questions, about how things were in bed. I was so naive I’d tell her. She was forever bringing me presents, cakes. When I ate them I’d feel terrible. Yes, it sounds weird, but it’s true. After eating anything she brought me I’d feel bad. I couldn’t understand it. Nor could he – I was so healthy. Maybe it was something to do with her jealousy. I lost 10 kilos in three months. I got so weak, though usually I was full of energy, racing round the house, cooking, never sitting down, trying to please my husband. That’s how I was brought up. I wanted to be a perfect wife.

Today, I wonder how I could have behaved like that.  It goes back to my childhood, I suppose. I grew up in a very conservative family. Our father was very strict. Maybe – even despotic. Sometimes he was nice, of course, but he was always criticising us. Never praised us, however much we tried to please him. So my sisters and I grew up believing we had to please everyone.

My husband soon clocked that, and made use of it. I was afraid of him right from the start. He’d get this terrible look in his eyes, start shouting, throwing things at me. For no reason! Saucepans, ashtrays, watches, anything that was around. Once he threw a pan of hot fat. He’d grab these big knives.  I’d burst into tears, I could see he was sick. I was scared. When the rage had died down he’d be sorry: ‘I’m a fool, I don’t know why I do these things. I love you more than anything in the world.’ Then I’d forgive him. I pitied him – poor man, what must they have done to you to make you like this!

Pity. My capacity for pity – it’s a bad joke. It’s played a fatal role in my life. I should have looked after myself better.

I was a long way away from my parents. If they been there, maybe I’d just have run away when he started beating me up. But I didn’t know how to. For a start, he never gave me money. Maybe he was afraid I’d… It wasn’t that he was mean. But he never left money at home. And considering how he lived – the lovers, the restaurants – he must have felt he needed it, just in case. He’d never let slip an opportunity. After spending the whole evening with one woman, on the way home he’d manage one more bit of skirt. By the time he got home at two o’clock in the morning I’d be worn out. Then he’d start on me. That’s what he was like.  Relentless. A compulsive womanizer.  

When he beat me I would not say a word. Then he’d beat me because I did not say anything. He didn’t know why he was doing it. He just beat me. Then he’d be sorry. At other times he’d yell: ‘You’re a nobody!’ He didn’t mean it – he’d say anything to make sure I didn’t leave. He wanted me to feel dependent, vulnerable. As time when on, I got bolder – I’d yell at him, try to stand up for myself. We’d have huge rows. I had a temper too.

After five or six years I got pregnant. Then he left. Made some excuse about having to earn money. Was gone for months, with his lover.  I didn’t hear a word from him. Then he turned up, when I was eight months gone. That same day he beat me up so badly I had to escape. I scrambled out of the window, barefoot. It was August. We were living in Alma-Ata [ed: now Almaty] then. It’s a very big city. I kept walking and walking. I had no idea where I was going. Then I reached this wood. I never wanted to see that man again. I wanted to die. I’d come to this wood to put an end to my life.  I was furious. How could he beat me up, knowing that I was with child?

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I didn’t do it, obviously.  I sat there for twenty minutes or so, thinking it through. And realised I was wrong – I didn’t have the right to kill another life. I pulled myself together and set off in the direction of home. Barefoot. Finally a car stopped and gave me a lift. I had this neighbour, Aunt Katya. Russian. A very good woman. I went to her. She knew about my life. She was always telling me to leave. She put me to bed, prayed over me and went to bawl out my husband. He was all smiles, denied we’d had a row, though it was obvious he’d been really worried – I’d been gone all day, it  was dark. I refused to talk to him. I was hurting all over.

A month later, when I was about to give birth, he left again. He had this very young lover in Barnaul. He went to her, left me without a ruble. Throughout my pregnancy I hadn’t had enough money to feed myself properly, to buy nappies, pay the doctor. I’d had to turn to his brothers for help.

After the birth I came home. I had no milk. I spent these sleepless nights alone with the crying baby, who was very weak. I cried too. I was afraid for the baby. He was having convulsions – we were always calling the ambulance. The brothers would bring food. But then they’d expect me to cook for them. They’d be there every day with their friends and I’d be cooking with one hand, holding the baby with the other. Round midnight Aunt Katya’d come and take the child. And I’d run out to the bathhouse and wash the nappies.  The child was having diarrhoea. So I had to keep changing him. I was like a robot. I will forever be grateful to that woman.

My husband turned up again when the child was two months old. To be honest I was very happy to see him. I took him into the child’s room ‘Here he is – our son!’  He’d told me more than once that if I gave him a son he’d cover me in gold. But now he took one look and said: ‘He’s not very like me!’ I was hurt. That he could say that, after everything I’d been through during the pregnancy and after, when he was away! How ashamed I’d been to have to leave the maternity ward without paying the doctors. Of course, I could not pay them back later, as I had no money for a long time.

Something broke in me at that moment – this man could not even share our joy at having a child. It was as if he was saying the child wasn’t his. Had his lover put the idea into his head? I don’t know. Well, he spent two months at home and in all that time, though he could see how much the baby was suffering, from pain, from illness, how wretched I was, he never once came and helped.

English: This is the logo of CONCORD, the Euro...

English: This is the logo of CONCORD, the European NGO confederation of Relief and Development NGO’s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In common with their Chechen neighbours, the Ingush population was accused by Stalin of colluding with the Nazi enemy during the Second World and deported to Kazazhstan. Although many returned under Khruschev, the links between Ingushetia and Kazakhstan remain strong to this day. 

When the child was four months old he got convulsions so badly we went to the hospital. He was at death’s door. I rang my husband and asked him to talk to the doctor and pay him. I lost 7 kilos that night. The doctor managed to save him. But my husband went to his lover. Just ran away, leaving us to handle the crisis on our own. He didn’t even leave me any money. I didn’t see him again ‘til the child was 10 months old. We’d travelled home to Ingushetia for my husband’s brother’s wedding. The baby was more grown up – he stroked him, played with him. Then left again for Barnaul.

Did I already say that my husband was an addict, as well as alcoholic? At first he only smoked weed, then he got onto prescription drugs. One of his lovers was a nurse – she got them for him. Then they did this check at her hospital and found that a lot of medicines with these drugs were missing. They suspected her. It was going to court. Well – she hung herself. My husband showed no regret at all. He didn’t know what compassion was. It was the drugs, I suppose. I know addicts become cruel, and that gets worse with time.

At one point he’d overdosed badly.  A friend had brought heroin, they’d both shot up and gone out like lights. I was too embarrassed to call the neighbours – they respected us, I didn’t want them to know he was an addict. I was in such a panic I never thought of ringing his friends. At last his friend recovered and we dragged my husband onto the bed. He wouldn’t let me call an ambulance, it wasn’t the first time it had happened, he said. My husband lay there for days. I bought medicine – I’m a medic, I knew what to get. When he came round he couldn’t remember much. Forgot names. I nursed him through that.

After two years away, he came back to Ingushetia, where we were now living. For a couple of months he did not touch a drop – because of his parents. He’d become all quiet, quite unlike himself. I was worried about him – now he was ill I couldn’t just walk out him.

We went back to Barnaul and for a while we lived quietly, no quarrels, no fights. Then one day a friend came by with drink and that was it. Over night my quiet husband lost it, started having hallucinations, saying these unbelievable things. I went to the doctors. They said he was past helping, that after such a heavy overdose the damage was usually irreparable. I begged them, said that I couldn’t leave him in trouble, after 20 years together They looked at me as if I were mad. One of them took pity on me and prescribed some medicine. When I gave it to my husband he shouted at me, said it was me, not him, that was sick.

Still, he was getting worse all the time. He was having hallucinations. He’d tell his brothers -we were back in Ingushetia – that people had seen me sitting in a car late at night, that I was being unfaithful. His brothers laughed at him. But he was beating me up, tormenting me, mocking the child. It got so bad that his brothers had to take me to his parents. It got to the point where his brothers took my mobile, went to the police and went through all the calls and texts I’d made. I knew he was ill, that it was pointless arguing with him. If I hadn’t been a medic myself I’d have left, but I knew he needed help, so I tried to tell his relations. But no one would listen.

The last two months were a nightmare. I kept my phone in my pocket, my finger on the emergency button. His youngest brother and I agreed that I’d call if he attacked me. So when he started I’d press the button and in ten minutes the brother’d be there and take me to his parents’. After a few days, I’d go back. I don’t know why. I felt guilty, I couldn’t leave him in that state.

Once my husband outwitted me. I was asleep with the child late one night when he knocked at the door. He asked for my phone, said he had to make a call. Stupidly, I gave it to him. He looked at me with this mad smile and put the phone under the pillow. He took me out on the balcony and started hitting me, trying to make me confess – that I’d been with someone. I tried to reason with him, but he kept hitting me harder and harder. I became so afraid he was going to kill me that I admitted everything. I shouted for help, but he just hit me harder. At some point passers-by heard my shouts, saw me standing by the window in my nightdress, being hit. They started whistling, so he left off. When they’d gone he asked me where I’d hidden my wig. When I said I’d never had one, he punched me in the stomach. I doubled over from the pain and he started kicking my head. The first blow was so hard I thought he cracked my skull. I knew he’d done something serious. He kicked me like a ball, so I bounced against the balcony door. He must have realised he’d gone too far. He told me to go to sleep, that he’d kill me if I breathed a word.

Luckily, his brother rang in the morning. He took us to his relations. Then the elders decided we should get a divorce. They decided that I should stay in the flat with the child, and he would go to his parents. That’s how our marriage ended.

When I got back to the flat with the child, I found this huge kitchen knife wedged in the sofa when I was cleaning. My husband must have hidden it, in order to kill me. What if I’d gone back to him one more time!

After that, although the elders had agreed I should have the flat, his relations would not let me live there. I agreed to leave. I just wanted to forget it all. I’d been having these awful headaches. They found this tumour on my brain. Now I’m facing a very serious operation. That’s where the heedlessness of youth led me. Now I am the invalid, the one who needs help.

I’d like to make this appeal to all women. My dears! Don’t put up with it. Run away from men like that!

Least you will not end up like me. 

 

Illustrations Courtesy of and by Jess Wilson 


This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 licence. If you have any queries about republishing please contact us. Please check individual images for licensing details.

 

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Central African Republic’s {CAR}: “UN Calls for Calm, Urging Authorities to Mobilize Around the Speedy Election of a New Transitional Leadership”


#AceWorldNews says following the resignation of the Central African Republic’s two interim leaders, the top United Nations official in the crisis-riven country called for calm today, urging the authorities to mobilze around the speedy election of new transitional leadership.
In a statement issued by his office in Bagui, Babacar Gaye, Special Representative and Head of the UN Integrated Peace-building Office for the Central African Republic (BINUCA), took note of the resignation yesterday of President Michel Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye.
“He calls on members of the National Transitional Council (CNT) to mobilize around the urgent election of a new transitional executive, as agreed at the extraordinary summit of Heads of States of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) yesterday, 10 January 2014, in N’djamena, Chad.” Armed attacks between ex-Séléka and Christian anti-balaka militias have escalated significantly in the past two weeks, despite the creation of a transitional government following the attack a year ago by mostly Muslim Séléka rebels which forced President François Bozizé to flee.
Since then, thousands of people are estimated to have been killed, nearly 1 million driven from their homes, and 2.2 million, about half the population, need humanitarian aid.
Delivering a message on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the ECCAS Summit on Thursday, Mr. Gaye stressed that the past year’s events have profoundly damaged the relationship between Muslim and Christian communities in the CAR, and warned that there is a real danger of further upheaval along religious lines.
“The horrific cycle of violence and retaliation between communities must stop immediately,” he said. “Distrust is high and violence has fuelled anger and a thirst for revenge,” he added, highlighting the need to prioritize reconciliation efforts. Disarmament of combatants in accordance with international standards is essential, Mr. Ban stressed, noting also the importance of demobilization and reintegration of the former fighters.
Today, Mr. Gaye called on the people and the leaders of the CAR to maintain calm and show maturity following the leaders’ resignations. “Along with the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA), French forces, SANGARIS, have made important progress in securing Bangui,” he said, adding that their efforts must be supported, especially as numerous threats persist.

“The entire UN System and our humanitarian partners are fully mobilized to assist approximately two million people who are in urgent need of assistance across the country,” he said.
To that end, yesterday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) issued an appeal for $40.2 million for CAR. That request, which is for the period to the end of March, follows appeals launched by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in late December for $152.2 million in immediate support needs for a 100-day plan for CAR.
UNHCR’s supplementary appeal for CAR aims to support more than 1 million people, including 86,400 refugees in neighbouring countries and 958,000 internally displaced persons.

UN: “Mission in South Sudan Gains Access to Besieged Areas”


#AceWorldNews says The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) announced today that as it continues to gain access to besieged areas, the number of people killed in the current round of fighting in the world’s youngest country “must be much higher” than the 1,000 figure given earlier in the conflict, which erupted nearly a month ago and continues to grind on.
In a news release from Juba, UNMISS notes fresh media reports, including in the New York Times, estimating that up to 10,000 people may have been killed since the conflict started on 15 December 2013, after President Salva Kiir said soldiers loyal to former vice-president Reik Machar, dismissed from office in July, launched an attempted coup.

On 26 December, 10 days into the crisis, the Mission estimated that 1,000 people may have been killed in the fighting. “This was based on UNMISS’ initial monitoring and investigations in Juba and other relatively more stable locations where its Human Rights Officers and other staff were able to access, investigate and document the unfolding developments,” the Mission said today.
Yet, after two weeks of subsequent violence, characterized by sometimes intense fighting with heavy weapons, there are now clear indications that the casualty count must be much higher, says UNMISS, adding that while it has continues to closely monitor the human rights situation, interviewing witnesses, and following leads, it “is not at this stage in a position to establish and verify the exact numbers of casualties.”
The Mission recalls that on 9 January, Hervé Ladsous, the head of UN Peacekeeping Operations, speaking to reporters in New York following a three hour briefing to the Security Council on the situation in South Sudan, said: “We are not able to provide final figures. We know it will be very substantially in excess of the 1,000 figure”.
Meanwhile the Mission says that despite serious security constraints due to the fighting in Bor and Bentiu, which has restricted access by its Human Rights Officers, during the course of last week, UNMISS began interviewing victims and eyewitnesses among displaced people from Bor who have arrived in Juba and Awerial County in neighbouring Lakes State. UNMISS Human Rights Officers have also been able to return to Bor on 9 January.
“Preliminary indications from these interviews and investigations in Bentiu and Malakal contain horrific allegations of atrocities by anti-Government forces against civilians and surrendering soldiers, including summary executions, torture, sexual violence and ethnically targeted killing,” the Mission says in the news releases, deploring these horrendous acts of violence and utter disregard for human life and dignity.
UNMISS chief Hilde Johnson called on all parties to cease hostilities immediately, and respect and protect civilians. “She reiterates Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon’s] reminder that those who commit such heinous acts will be held accountable,” the news release adds.
UNMISS vowed to continue investigating and documenting atrocities committed by both sides, in all affected areas and called on the Government and the anti-Government forces to cooperate with “these important investigations and to facilitate unhindered access by the Mission’s Human Rights Officers to all affected areas.”
In addition, this past Friday, Mr. Ban that announced that he would dispatch UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, to South Sudan this weekend to look into cases of violations believed to have been committed during the conflict, which has displaced some 230,000 people, more than a quarter of whom are seeking refuge on UN bases.

UN #HumanRights Office: “Concerned about Decision by Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs to Declare Illegal a Coalition of 54 Non-Islamic Civil Society Groups”


#AceWorldNews says the United Nations human rights office today expressed concern about a decision by the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs to declare illegal a coalition of 54 mainly non-Islamic civil society groups focused on human rights known by the acronym COMANGO.

“We call upon Government of Malaysia to amend the Societies Act 1966, maximize the space for human rights activists and organisations to operate freely, and ensure that they can conduct their legitimate activities without intimidation or harassment,” the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, told journalists in Geneva.

The COMANGO coalition submitted joint reports to both the UN Human Rights Council’s 2009 and 2013 Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) of the situation in Malaysia.

Since its submission to the second cycle of the UPR, which took place on 24 October 2013, the coalition has reportedly been subjected to a series of harassment and threats, allegedly by both State and non-State actors. The coalition has been accused of attacking Islam and of spreading beliefs that do not conform to Islamic teachings.

The Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs declared in a press statement on 8 January that COMANGO promotes rights which are not in line with Islam, and is therefore illegal.

The statement also noted that only 15 of the 54 organizations are registered under the Societies Act 1966.

“We are concerned by what appears to be an act of reprisal against COMANGO for its engagement with international human rights mechanism,” the spokesperson added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Commissioner Navi Pillay and the Geneva-based Human Rights Council have persistently called for the protection of individuals and members of groups that cooperate with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights from acts of intimidation or reprisal.

Between Common Core & UN 21: your kids are nothing but stated owned human capital


Ace News Group:

#AceNewsServices says Nice Post ” Respecting other People Opinions” #freedomofspeeech

Originally posted on PUMABydesign001's Blog:

Common core obey the state not the parents

Between Common Core & UN 21: your kids are nothing but stated owned human capital I know a bunch of folks still believe UN Agenda 21 is pure conspricacy theory.. You can’t blame them, the entire concept sounds like the dream of the mad scientist in a scifi movie….

…Dictators have long realized the need to use their countries education system to indoctrinate the young…  As horrible as that sounds, it goes much deeper.  Several months ago months ago Gretchen from the Missouri Education Watchdog showed showed me some documents from the George Bush administration that looked an awful lot like Common Core..  In fact the was a Common Core for the Middle East, and one for Africa..

Among the things the documents talked about was a system of education that would allow for the movement of Human Capital from location to location to meet the needs of Corporate and…

View original 50 more words

“Government Anti-“Extremism” Campaign Hits Internet Content and Access in Russia”


Logo of Reporters Without Borders, animated tr...

Logo of Reporters Without Borders, animated trilingual version (English, French, Spanish). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceGuestNews says according to a recent article in RFS the authorities have used the issue of national security to expand Web monitoring and censorship – even while continuing to promote and develop Internet access for the population at large. The Web has played a key role in the political debate prompted by legislative and presidential elections and in the post-election mobilization of the opposition and civil society. These developments provoked a strong official response. The blogosphere has grown stronger and better organized in the face of state attacks.

Government anti-“extremism” campaign hits Internet content and access

President George W. Bush of the United States ...

President George W. Bush of the United States and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, exchange handshakes Thursday, June 7, 2007, after their meeting at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prime Minister (now President-elect) Vladimir Putin said on 9 February 2012: “Negative phenomena exist everywhere, including on the Internet, and should not be used as a pretext to limit Internet freedom.” However, the authorities have used the justification of preventing violence to reinforce their control of the Internet, with the Federal Security Service (FSB) taking steps to close a number of online organizations in late 2011. Most of these groups have clearly called on their members to respect the law and not to let themselves be provoked into violence.

The government list of “extremist” content, as well as the boundaries of the category itself, keep growing. It now includes everything touching on religion and issues of ethnicity, which have become taboo subjects on RuNet – as the Russian Internet is known. That list is the basis of official demands to take down content, and of actions to block site access (see the Russia chapter in the 2011 report on Enemies of the Internet).

The process of domain name registration could affect freedom of expression online by leading to closure of more sites. New rules promulgated by Nic.ru, the biggest Russian domain name-registration company, allow the cancellation of domain names for inciting violence, “extremist” activity, advocating overthrow of the government, activity in conflict with human dignity or religious beliefs. The rules reflected new official regulations. Domain name-registration companies are authorized to suspend names in the .ru and .rf (pΦ) domains upon written notification from “agencies conducting an investigation.” That provision would potentially authorize prosecutors, the FSB, the police, or the drug enforcement agency (FSKN) to order such a move.

In Tomsk, Siberia, the broadcast arm of Roskomnadzor, the federal mass communications supervisory agency, has recently pressured the regional television network TV-2 to stop transmitting two news programs by Dozhd, the first Internet TV network in Russia, whose content is critical of the government.

Anatoly Baranov, owner of the forum.msk.ru discussion platform, states that the Yandex search engine filtered out news items from his site on Yandex.News searches.

Danger of the spread of online monitoring and censorship

English: Flag of Roskomnadzor Русский: Флаг Ро...

English: Flag of Roskomnadzor Русский: Флаг Роскомнадзора (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roskomnadzor, whose regulatory authority extends to information technology and mass communications, has announced that it has installed on-line software to detect “extremist” material. The sites identified through this process will be given three days to take down content that meets this ill-defined standard. If a site does not comply, two additional warnings will be sent. The site will then be shut down.

The software was to go into operation in test mode in December, 2011. Its full deployment has beenpostponed indefinitely. Nevertheless, it carries the risk of system-wide monitoring of the Russian Weband could lead eventually to the taking down of all content that displeases the authorities.

The justice ministry, for its part, has invited bids to create its own monitoring system of content on the Internet. Such a system would allow close examination of all content touching on Russian government and justice systems, and any European Union statement concerning Russia.

Bloggers under pressure

Prison sentences and violent attacks were less frequent in 2011, except during the election campaign period. Yet legal proceedings and pressures of all kind continue – above all when the activities of netizens focus on sensitive topics and powerful interest groups.

Maj. Igor Matveev of the interior ministry garrison in Vladivostok has been prosecuted on charges that seem to have been prompted by his revelations last June of practices in the military region where he served. He reported that troops were served dog food in cans falsely labelled as containing beef stew. He faces a possible 10-year sentence.

Yuri Yegorov, a former employee of the regional government of Tatarstan’s human rights ombudsman’s office, received a six-month suspended sentence last June, as well as two years of probation, for defamation. He had revealed a case of alleged corruption in the ombudsman’s office, headed by Rashit Vagiov, that took place from February to July 2007.

Leonid Kaganov, a prominent blogger, was forced last May to house his site abroad. In 2009, the FSB had demanded, through his hosting service, the removal of an anti-Semitic poem that was on his site because he had mocked it.

Roman Hoseyev is the target of administrative action for having quoted from “Mein Kampf” on a site in 2005, before the 2010 banning of the book in Russia. He had drawn comparisons between statements by US President George W. Bush and Hitler.

No information has been received about the fate of a Navy conscript who blogged under the nameVasily, publishing on Twitter under the name Sosigusyan. He denounced hazing and poor living conditions in his unit. His Twitter account was hacked and the content about the military taken down, except for the last three posts, which were written by another person.

Propaganda and cyber-attacks

In addition to mounting a campaign of repression against on-line oppositionists, the Kremlin deploys its own cyber-weapons. Several thousand Twitter accounts were hacked at the end of 2011 in order to flood social media with pro-government messages, using hashtags popular with oppositionists (notably, #navalny, from the name of the well-known political activist and anti-corruption bloggerAlexei Navalny, and #триумфалънпая, from Triumfalnaya Square in Moscow).

LiveJournal was taken down by DDOS in 2006.

LiveJournal was taken down by DDOS in 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many Russian bloggers have pointed to a wave of “bots” unleashed against the LiveJournal social media platform. Oleg Kozyrev, an opposition blogger, has counted more than 2,000 of these software weapons.

Oppositionist Navalny’s e-mail inbox has been hacked, with the contents displayed on a site called navalnymail.kz. According to several bloggers, this action could be part of a government-organized campaign to discredit Navalny.

The wave of cyber-attacks peaked at the time of the legislative elections last December. A series of Distributed Denial of Service attacks paralyzed sites critical of the government before and during the vote, apparently to silence the dissidents. Access to LiveJournal, which hosts blogs critical of the Kremlin, was blocked for three days, starting on 1 December 2011. The site had already suffered a DDoS attack the month before.

Among other Web targets are:

  • Echo of Moscow radio’s site, Echo.msk.ru
  • The independent daily Kommersant’s site, komersant.ru
  • The election-monitoring NGO’s site, golos.org
  • KartaNarusheniy.ru, an interactive map created by Golos to track reports of election fraud
  • Gazeta.ru, an independent news site
  • Lenizdat.ru, a Saint Petersburg-based independent news site
  • Slonl.ru and Newtimes.ru, opposition sites which posted the Golos map after Gazeta.ru took it down
  • Ridus.ru, a citizen-journalism site
  • Doshdu.ru, the site of Dosh, an independent news magazine about the Russian Caucasus
  • Zaks.ru, a news site on the northwest region.

Some media organizations and opposition groups, having anticipated these developments, migrated to social networks and called on their readers to follow them on Twitter and Facebook in the event that their sites went down.

Disputed elections, attempted control of online political debate

Most traditional media organizations, notably television networks, are under Kremlin control, genuine political discussions have been possible only online. Any measure deemed necessary to uphold the country’s strongman, Putin, has been considered appropriate.

Even before and during the legislative elections, debates had been hindered by cyber-attacks and by the arrests of journalists and bloggers. Those detained included Alexey Sochnev, the editor of the independent news site Besttoday.ru; Maria Plieva, a prominent blogger in Ossetia; and the president of Golos, Lilia Chibanova.

Golos’ interactive election-fraud monitoring map proved to be a great success as the elections unfolded. Thousands of videos showing irregularities at voting places were posted to the site, prompting Russians to take to the streets in great numbers to denounce election fraud. Navalny and many journalists were arrested during these post-election demonstrations,

The great majority of traditional media organizations – especially television networks – ignored these events. Instead, they provided largely favourable coverage of Putin’s party, United Russia, which swept the legislative elections.

English: Emblem of Federal Security Service of...

English: Emblem of Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation. Español: Emblema del Servicio Federal de Seguridad. Русский: Эмблема ФСБ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The social media site Vkontakte, which has more than 5 million members in Russia, found itself in the government spotlight. The FSB told the site’s founder and director, Pavel Durov, to shut down seven groups calling for demonstrations last December (including a group rallying to defend the ruling party). A Russian blogger estimated that up to 185,000 netizens subscribed to protest-organizing groups. A spokesman for Vkontakte said publicly that the site would not practice censorship and would not carry out the FSB order. Following the statement, Durov was summoned to appear before prosecutors in Saint Petersburg on 9 December.

Regional discussion forums, very popular at the provincial level, with most participants anonymous, have become a favourite resource for political debate among Russian netizens, and a nightmare for the authorities. However, these sites are less powerful than the national media and easy to censor, though that has not prevented netizens from migrating to other sites, hosted abroad. At least three forums were closed or suspended during the months leading up to the early December elections.

One of these sites is the Kostroma Jedis regional forum, which was targeted following the posting of two satirical videos criticizing Igor Slyunyaev, governor of the Kostroma region, some 300 km northwest of Moscow. In November, other forums were shut down or purged of all political content by their administrators. One such case occurred in the Arzamas, a city 410 km east of Moscow, affecting the mcn.nnov.ru site. Another took place in the west-central city of Miass, 95 km west of Chelyabinsk, affecting the forum.miass.ru site. It is not clear if these were cases of official action or self-censorship. In either case, the closing of these forums signifies a narrowing of the possibilities for political debate on the Russian Web.

In the run-up to the presidential election in March, Golos, the election-monitoring NGO, put up a new version of its interactive map to track election fraud, with stronger defences against cyber-attack. Navalny, the activist and blogger, mounted a site, Rosvybory.org, to assist citizens in becoming presidential election observers.

The campaign of repression mounted for the legislative elections illustrated the official attitude toward protest. And the official response was designed to create a deterrent to popular action in the presidential election period. Tensions grew during the months between the two elections. On 17 February, Reporters Without Borders denounced a wave of intimidation aimed at national independent media. Major targets included Echo of MoscowNovaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper, and Dozhd, the online television operation. The latter organization received a fax on 16 February from the Moscow prosecutor’s office, demanding detailed information on the “network’s financing for coverage of mass demonstrations on 10 and 24 December.”

These barely veiled accusations against Dozhd track precisely with statements by Prime Minister Putin, who had publicly accused demonstrators of having acted at the encouragement of the US state department. Roskomnadzor, the mass communications authority, had already required Dozhd to defend its coverage of the December protests. After examining in detail the images that the network had transmitted, the agency finally concluded that they contained nothing objectionable.

Journalists were again arrested and beaten during the post-election demonstrations of 5 March 2012. The clear goal was to prevent coverage of the demonstrations. However, contrary to what was seen in December, cyber-attacks seem to have been set aside – for now.

Export of the Russian model of Web control?

Russia has played a leading role on the international scene in promoting its vision of the Internet and exporting its Web control strategy. Moscow has proposed to the UN, together with China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, an Internet conduct code designed to provide “information security.”

The impact of the Kremlin’s policy is all the greater because the RuNet sphere of influence extends throughout the region, influencing countries such as Belarus and Kazakhstan in their Internet monitoring and censorship programs.

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