Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Todonyang insecurity

Bull's Eye: Divine intervention

Why police are turning their guns on each other

June 1,  2011

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William Oeri | NATION The scene at Parklands Police Station in Nairobi after a police officer shot dead his superior, a colleague and then killed himself earlier this month.
William Oeri | NATION The scene at Parklands Police Station in Nairobi after a police officer shot dead his superior, a colleague and then killed himself earlier this month.
By  KIPCHUMBA SOME  ksome@ke.nationmedia.co.ke

Posted  Saturday, May 28 2011 at 22:00
In Summary
  • Members of the force say recent tragedies can be linked to internal graft, an archaic code of conduct and the high-handedness of senior colleagues

On the morning of Saturday, May 13, 2011, Police Constable Jacob Rop shot dead his boss, Senior Sergeant Hassan Yusuf, following what was termed a “brief argument” at Parklands police station in Nairobi.
He then turned his weapon on his colleague, Constable Stephen Maganga, who had tried to intervene, and shot him near the abdomen. The “gentle” constable, as his friends describe him, finally directed his smoking weapon at himself and pulled the trigger, shattering his head.
In this sad affair, his close friends regret only one thing; that Rop killed himself and Constable Maganga who they say was innocent.
What about Senior Sergeant Yusuf? “It was sad, too, but he brought it upon himself,” a close friend of Rop told the Sunday Nation.
His weapon
This was not the first time a junior officer was turning his weapon on his seniors and colleagues.
On March 26 this year at the Narumoru police station, Police Constable Mark Mutwiri Mbogo allegedly shot dead two of his superiors – Senior Sergeant John Koros and acting Inspector Hudson Orwenyo Morang’a.
In February, a GSU officer shot his boss 14 times and injured another officer in Mombasa before turning the gun on himself.
In November last year, AP constable Peter Karanja allegedly shot 10 people dead in three bars in Siakago and then tried to kill himself only to realise he had run out of bullets. He handed himself over to police officers.
In the wake of the Parklands incident, Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere explained that high stress levels were to blame for the increasing incidence of junior police officers turning their weapons on their bosses and the public. He constituted a task force to look into the issue.
Problems afflicting the police force tend to be viewed in a larger perspective – low wages and poor housing – that overlooks the details.
However, a dozen junior and mid-level officers dissatisfied with their bosses’ explanations sat down with the Sunday Nation and candidly explained what, in their view, is ailing their force.
And what they said, which the Sunday Nation confirmed in independent investigations, points to unfettered corruption within the police hierarchy, a breakdown in communication between junior officers and their superiors, and an archaic code of conduct and discipline that seems to oppress and suppress rather than guide.
Their grievances are best expressed by illustrating what happened on that fateful Saturday morning when Rop, a man described as polite by his colleagues, suddenly turned murderous.
“Yusuf should have stuck to the agreement,” a colleague who was at the station during the shooting incident said.
Apparently, as the Sunday Nation learnt, there are “lucrative” areas in the city.
These are basically places where money changes hands a lot. They include banks, casinos and popular night clubs.
“In casinos, the management gives you something small at the end of the night. Maybe Sh1,000 or even Sh3,000. You might also get tips from customers who have won and want armed escort. You will never go broke when you are working in a casino,” explained an officer.
Expectedly, officers crave to be assigned to work in these areas. But this does not come free, as we learnt.
“Our bosses know these places are lucrative and they demand something in return in order to post us to these areas,” explained an officer who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
The standard amount given to an officer in charge for one to be assigned to, for instance, a casino in Westlands for a whole week is usually Sh5,000 per person, plus a daily commission, explained the officer who works at Parklands police station.
An agreement
He further explained that Rop had come to such an agreement with Sergeant Yusuf and he was to be assigned duties for a whole week inside one of the casinos in Westlands.
“But Rop did not have the full Sh5,000, so he gave him half with the promise to pay the other half within the week, plus the daily commissions,” explained one of his friends.
But Sergeant Yusuf apparently reneged on the agreement.
“When he reported to work, Rop discovered that he had been assigned outside the casino and not inside,” continued his friend. The group says there is more money to make inside rather than outside a casino.
Things might not have gone awry the way they did had Sergeant Yusuf the following morning not demanded from Rop the remaining Sh2,500 and the commission, according to officers who witnessed the incident.
“Rop told him that he had not made any money but Yusuf wouldn’t listen to him.  Rop pleaded with him, but Yusuf was not interested in hearing him out,” said his colleague.
The disagreement escalated and it is alleged that Sergeant Yusuf slapped him in the process. When Rop realised his senior was not going to listen to him, he reached for his gun and added to the grim statistics of police directing fire at themselves.
And tragic as it was, this incident illustrates the endemic corruption within the police force.
“You always accuse us of being corrupt, but we are simply passing down to you a cost that has been imposed on us by our seniors. You will never go far in the police force if you do not grease some bosses’ hands,” said the officers.
Take, for example, the police uniform. Officers are supposed to get it free of charge but none of the dozen officers who talked to us remembered getting the items free.
“Depending on who is in the store, we give the storeman between Sh200 and Sh500,” they said.
The same applies to promotions. “I gave out Sh30,000 for this post,” said a senior sergeant who also requested anonymity. “But I consider myself lucky. Some of my friends have taken loans to facilitate their promotions,” he added.
Getting information about training and promotion opportunities in the first place is near impossible, which, the officers argue, contravenes their constitutional right to information.
“When signals are sent from Vigilance House about such training and promotion opportunities, they are hardly posted on the notice boards of our stations as the rules stipulate,” said another officer.
He continued: “Some of our bosses sit on them. They then call their favourite officers aside or those who are willing to pay and inform them of these opportunities. We only learn that such opportunities were available when our colleagues leave for training."
A junior female officer said that for them to get promoted, they had to be “willing to do anything for it”.
“I have been asked on two occasions for sexual favours for a promotion and I refused. But I know of colleagues who have made sacrifices and they are doing well,” she said.
Retired military captain Simiyu Werunga, who is also a security analyst, contends that the high-level corruption in the police force is slowly but gradually eroding the respect junior officers hold for their seniors.
“It creates an impression among junior officers that their superiors hold positions not as a result of due merit but because they bribed their way to those positions. They might be wrong, they might be right. The bottom line is that it breeds a lot of disrespect,” he said.
There is also a feeling among police officers that their seniors are using them to enrich themselves, either through direct corruption – asking for bribes – or through what they termed ‘‘soft corruption’’– withholding services from them.
For example, although it is a right for police officers to be given transport and an accommodation allowance to attend court cases in towns or stations far from the ones they are serving in at that time, this hardly happens.
“We use our own money to go for these cases. When we ask, we may be told there is no cash. And you cannot afford to miss such court hearings because, besides constituting disciplinary action, the court can issue a warrant of arrest,” said an officer.
The belief among junior officers is that when these allowances are released, their bosses keep the money for themselves.
Further, in an effort to modernise the force, the police began to employ highly qualified candidates. As a result, among junior police ranks are degree and diploma holders qualified in various fields. But in most cases, this has caused tension between them and their seniors.
“A good number of our bosses possess low academic qualifications and therefore feel threatened by more qualified juniors. They neutralise the threat by making their lives as difficult as possible,” said another officer.
In this respect, the force’s standing orders – the set of rules that guide conduct and discipline of police officers – have become a great source of oppression and suppression to the police officers rather than a guiding document.
Constituted in 1961, the document is archaic and out of step with the new Constitution and modern policing practices.
“We are a disciplined force and we follow orders. But these rules have reduced us to school children. A malicious senior can level all manner of accusations against you.”
Mutwiri, alleged to have shot his seniors in Narumoru, is said to have done so to protest a sentence handed by an orderly room – a type of court proceeding that addresses disciplinary matters in police stations.
Usually such proceedings against a junior officer are presided over by an officer with the rank of an acting inspector of police and above.
Depending on the case, penalties include salary deduction, extra duties or even dismissals.
“The sad thing is that people come with a pre-determined mind,” said an officer who has been through such a trial. “When I tried to defend myself, I was accused of using insubordinate language. This carries a heavier penalty, including dismissal from the force. I just accepted my mistakes and given extra duties. But I felt I was unfairly tried and sentenced.”
And then there is the circuitous process the standing orders require officers to go through when asking for permission to attend to emergencies at home on short notice.
The rule is that a family member of the particular officer must report to the police station nearest to them. The station will then send a request to Vigilance House which will then transmit it to the station where the particular officer is working. There is no room for the use of technology, such as mobile phones, which would make such communication much faster.
“And under such circumstances you are given a weapon to report to duty. Aren’t you a danger to yourself and the people you are supposed to watch over?” asked an officer.
The officers also have a dim view of the team constituted by Mr Iteere to look into their problems and think it will lead nowhere.
“The officers in the team are the same ones who are the primary causes of our problems. How will they look at our issues objectively? Junior officers fear being victimised for speaking truthfully about these issues,” one said.
In the officers’ view, an independent team consisting of retired officers and members of the public ought to have been given the job.
Efforts to get an official response from Vigilance House were not fruitful. Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe did not pick up calls made to his mobile phone or respond to text messages we sent him.
The deputy director in charge of police reforms, Mr Kingori Mwangi, declined to comment and instead referred us to Gina Din Communications, which he says has been mandated by the Police Reforms Implementation Committee to speak on the pace of the reform process.

Judges reject Kenya bid to save suspects


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Photos/FILE  Judges Ekaterina Trendafilova (left), Cuno Tarfusser and Hans-Peter Kaul (left), in their ruling on May 30, 2011, noted that Kenya is short on measures already taken to punish impunity and long on promises of future action.
Photos/FILE Judges Ekaterina Trendafilova (left), Cuno Tarfusser and Hans-Peter Kaul (right), in their ruling on May 30, 2011, noted that Kenya is short on measures already taken to punish impunity and long on promises of future action.
By BERNARD NAMUNANE bnamunane@ke.nationmedia.com

Posted  Monday, May 30 2011 at 22:30

The government’s attempt to convince the International Criminal Court that it is serious about investigating and punishing election violence suspects failed on Monday.

Efforts to have the cases pending at the ICC brought back home were thrown out, with the judges finding the government’s grounds for claiming to be serious about punishing crimes against humanity unconvincing.
Judges appeared puzzled by the government’s claims to be investigating the cases without providing any proof.
In one case, the government gave the court a letter from the Attorney-General ordering the Commissioner of Police to investigate persons to have masterminded the violence.
However, the letter was written after the government filed the case to have the Ocampo Six tried at home.
Judges, in their ruling, also noted that Kenya is short on measures already taken to punish impunity and long on promises of future action.
The ruling by Pre-Trial Chamber judges now leaves the government with one option— a higher bench chaired by ICC President Judge Song Sang-Hyun to decide the fate.
In the ruling sent to defence teams, Judges Ekaterina Trendafilova, Cuno Tarfusser and Hans-Peter Kaul declared:
“The Chamber hereby rejects government request, determines the case is admissible and orders the (ICC) to notify this decision to the Government of the Republic of Kenya.”
The government, through British lawyers Geoffrey Nice and Rodney Dixon, filed an application challenging the admissibility of the case at The Hague on grounds that it had commenced investigations into the Ocampo Six. (READ: ICC Judges receive Kenya's request to strike out cases)
To back their arguments, the two lawyers attached at least 24 annexes which included letters from Attorney General Amos Wako and Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) boss Ndegwa Muhoro to start investigations.
Of those 24 attachments, the court found only three were relevant to the government’s case.
The government had also prepared a list of the cases related to crimes stemming out of the 2008 post election violence which had been investigated and concluded, those that were pending and those that were concluded.
Also attached to the application were the promulgation of the new Constitution, and the number of Bills that had been enacted by Parliament to reform the Judiciary, the Kenya Police and the department of Prosecutions.
It stated: “An investigation into the six suspects is under way in a country that has undergone, and is continuing to undergo, reform of police and judicial procedures that have to be accorded respect not just for what they will provide in the future but for what they guarantee now for the due process that will be brought to the investigation and to any trial of any of the six suspects.”
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo dismissed the government, arguing that he took over the case because it had failed to try the key players in the violence.
On December 15, 2010, he named the individuals as deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, suspended minister William Ruto, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, Postmaster General Hussein Ali and Kass FM radio presenter Joshua Sang.
They have since gone before the Pre-Trial Chamber for an initial appearance. Hearings for the confirmation of charges will begin on September 1 and September 21.
In their ruling on Monday, which saw Judge Hans-Peter Kaul append his signature to the ruling stating that the case was admissible even though he dissented when Mr Moreno-Ocampo sought to start investigations, they dismissed the arguments by Kenya’s attorneys and allowed the case to proceed to the confirmation stage.
“Although the information provided in these two annexes reveals that instructions were given to investigate the three suspects subject to the Court’s proceedings, the Government of Kenya does not provide the Chamber with any details about the asserted, current investigative steps undertaken,” they said.
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The judges said the government's supportive documents did not show the dates when the investigations were initiated against the Ocampo Six and whether they have been questioned over the crimes they allegedly committed during the violence.
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They also faulted the government for failing to submit both police and prosecutions’ reports on the investigations and initial trials.
“The Government of Kenya also fails to provide the Chamber with any information as to the conduct, crimes or the incidents for which the three suspects are being investigated or questioned. There is equally no record that shows that the relevant witnesses are being or have been questioned,” they said.
The judges were categorical that any bid to challenge admissibility of the case must be supported by facts of existing investigations, which the government failed to provide.
“The admissibility of the case must be determined on the basis of the facts as they exist at the time of the proceedings concerning the admissibility challenge,” they said. The judges argued that since the government failed to provide the information, it meant that there were no investigations and prosecutions over the 2008 post election chaos crimes.
Referring to a letter by Mr Muhoro which indicated that there was a pending case against Mr Ruto (file No 10/2008), the judges tore into the government defence stating that Kenya’s investigators were caught off guard by the names of suspects released by Mr Moreno-Ocampo.
“ When the ICC Prosecutor finally disclosed the names of what came to be known as the Ocampo Six, the police investigators were taken by surprise. This was because other than William Ruto, none of the members of the Ocampo Six have been mentioned previously during the investigations.”
They argued that it was not enough for Mr Iteere to state that he was ready to go before the judges to show that investigations were on- going.
They were unanimous that the government had not embarked on any investigations and decided to dismiss the case.
“The Chamber considers that there remains a situation of inactivity. Consequently, the Chamber cannot but determine that the case is admissible,” he said.

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Kenya, Uganda sued over rights violations

By ZEPHANIA UBWANI, zubwani@tz.nationmedia.com

Posted  Tuesday, May 31 2011 at 20:57

Kenya and Uganda may be charged over human rights violations and breaching of Constitution following a suit filed before the East African Court of Justice.
The two governments will face the wrath of the East African Law Society, the premier bar association in the region, which filed two cases each against Kampala and Nairobi.
The suit was presented to the Office of the court’s registrar in Arusha by the Vice President of the regional law body Mr Aggrey Mwamu shortly before 5 pm on Tuesday.
The Ugandan government was accused of gross violations of human rights in their ‘walk to work’ protests in April this year, leading to deaths, injuries and destruction of property.
The law society alleged Ugandan security forces were behind arbitrary arrests and killing of innocent people “in violation of the very basic tenets of human rights”.
Briefing the media before the case was formally filed at the court in Dar es Salaam, Mr Mwamu said the regional law society was empowered to raise its voice over human rights violations.
The East African Community was not spared either with its secretary-general being accused of silence in the face of the deteriorating situation in Uganda.
“As the atrocities were committed in Uganda, neither the secretary-general nor any of the five members of the community, raised concern. This is against the treaty,” he said.
The suit also included what the law society described as unconstitutional extradition of Kenyan citizens to Uganda to face charges over the July 2010 terror attack in Kampala.
The law society officials charged that the Kenyans were handed over to the Ugandan authorities without proper legal procedures. (READ: Uganda terror case referred to regional court)
“This was also inconsistent with the Kenya Constitution. The community boss did nothing to remind the partner states on the anomaly,” he said.
After the case has been filed, summonses would be served to the two governments within 14 days and a hearing date set.
The filing of the case on Tuesday followed concerns raised by the regional law body, which operates from Arusha, over the recent political violence in Uganda.

Helping Delhi's 'untouchable' child beggars


Published: 27 April, 2009, 12:04

Hardly anyone is willing to help Indian child beggars, or wants to touch them, but a group of volunteers goes into the streets of Delhi to make these children feel wanted.
A large city can be cruel to children who are dirty, half naked, begging, and grow up on the streets as 'untouchables.'
People may part with money to feed, clothe, or educate them, but nobody seems to want to touch them.

And if they do happen to touch some of the well-heeled, the consequences can be severe.
Former street child Pintu Kumar says “I used to have many friends who used to also beg. If we ever even touched anyone, they would get very angry, and tell us that they would complain to the police. Sometimes complaints were made with the Police, and the Police used to beat us.”
To make the children feel wanted, and ease the pain of being shunned, a group of volunteers, called 'Catalyst,' come together every Saturday afternoon, and play with these street kids.
They believe they're fulfilling an important emotional gap that other charities have overlooked.
“It is highly important, highly significant, that children receive touch,” says volunteer Heather Pechtel, who is a professional baker. “It builds their self-esteem; it lets them know that they are loved, and that gives them the courage to follow an example of an older adult into a better life.”
Pintu Kumar is one success story. After a few years, he gained the courage to get training, and is now working in a bakery. He now takes time out as a volunteer himself.
But one of the organization's challenges is to find more willing to help out.
Playing with the children is a barrier that most find difficult to overcome.
“They get the feeling as if some dirt has come, and got stuck on their clothes,” Kumar says.
Strict laws aim to protect children from pedophiles, and physical contact with a child in the absence of a parent could lead to criminal charges.
'Catalyst' ensures meetings take place in public, and safeguards are in place for the volunteers and the children.

“We still need to be careful about these children because some people might take advantage of them being vulnerable,” says the director of 'Catalyst,' Abhishek Gier.
“So we have a child protection policy, which we share with all the volunteers who come with us, so that they know what are their limits and boundaries.”
Heather Pechtel says not just the children benefit. “You don’t need to speak Hindi perfectly, or you don’t need to be able to relate to them on their level as children perfectly, you just need to interact with them, and show them love and specialness; and it’s always beautiful to walk in, and know that they want to be with you, too.”
Catalysts say that children, irrespective of background, want affection and time, not money.

Indian women still commit ritual suicides


Published: 09 September, 2009, 09:32
Edited: 10 September, 2009, 09:36
Sati. Nandalal Bose, gold, wash, and tempera on paper, 1943. National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Acc. no. 4797

The tradition of ritual suicides by widowed women is still respected in certain communities of India and, despite long ago being prohibited, such cases continue to occur.
The Hindu tradition of Sati, where a recently widowed woman commits suicide on her husband's funeral pyre, has been outlawed in India since 1829. However, that did not completely eradicate the practice.
A recent example is the case of Sharbati Bai. When her husband died, the 60-year old decided to kill herself.
“I loved my husband dearly. Life here is difficult, there’s no water to drink and who will help with my medication? I don’t know what happened, I prayed to God to lift me from here, and then I fainted,” recalls Sharbati Bai.
Luckily for Sharbati, villagers stopped her in time. This is the biggest change in India’s attitude towards Sati since it was outlawed in 1829: that an entire village in the Hindu heartland came forward and prevented Sati from taking place.
Witness to the event Ram Azad remembers that “She was sitting by the funeral pyre, saying “Light it, light it, I want to become a Sati.’ There was a crowd of over a hundred people there. We stopped her, and caught hold of her and brought her away from the fire.”
Sati was supposed to be voluntary, but there have been accounts of women being forced or drugged. Property tussles are often the reason, with male heirs preferring to do away with a widow, leaving the inheritance entirely in their hands. In other cases, women commit Sati themselves because of the prestige it brings the family.
“Whatever the rich people did in the past, the poor think is a mark of status and follow blindly, because through Sati, a family’s spiritual status and prestige jumps, and so does its source of income,” lays the deal Kailash Meena, a member of People’s Union for Civil Liberties.
”On the other hand, sometimes when a husband dies, his widow is left with no financial support, and prefers to die in a sort of respectable suicide,” he adds.
India’s most infamous Sati case took place in the village of Devrala exactly 22 years ago. 18-year-old Roop Kanwar committed Sati on the funeral pyre of her husband right here in the centre of the village in 1987. It shocked the entire nation, and it strengthened the laws against Sati. Yet the villagers of Devrala have erected a makeshift shrine to Roop Kanwar . So even though the practice itself is banned, the glorification of Sati lives on.
In fact, India has at least 250 Sati temples, including 11 in the district of Sikar alone. Women who commit Sati are worshipped as Sati Devi or a goddess. In Hindu tradition, Sati is an act of piety, and is said to purge a woman of all accumulated sin. No wonder then that villagers from the surrounding region visit this temple for her blessings.
The priest of one such temple, Makhan Sharma, says that once a woman becomes a Sati, she attains healing powers.
“Her respected status means that people’s prayers are answered. That’s why people come here from all around. Our pain and diseases are healed through her blessings.”
However, India’s strong anti-Sati laws are helping to eradicate the practice, and very few take place in India today. As the villagers’ prompt action in stopping Sharbati’s self-sacrifice shows, Indian society is coming to terms with living with the tradition but not adding to it.

Transsexual runs for Indian presidency


Published: 16 April, 2009, 22:36

There is no shortage of candidates in the Indian presidential election, including one 45-year-old transsexual, who says it’s her sexual identity that will defeat the political heavyweights.
Election fever is raging in India. Voting has ended on the first day of elections. Officials say that 60 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots across 124 constituencies. More than 140  million people were eligible to vote on Thursday.

While the numbers involved are vast it's also about the individual. Daya Rani Kinnar is set to clash with political heavyweights. She is not only an independent candidate, but also a transsexual.
Unlike other candidates who run their campaign on the basis of their vast political experience, newcomer Rani Kinnar says her mixed sexual identity is her main selling point.
“Why are people with me? Because other politicians fill their homes and cupboards. And I have no children, husband, wife or heirs. Whatever family I have is these people and I live off these people and I will fight for these people with the politicians who have not delivered on their promises,” Daya Rani Kinnar said.
Living with ten other transsexuals in a huge bungalow, the illiterate Daya Rani has touched hearts and minds of many potential voters.
Life for the transgender community in India is tough, with the majority reliant on begging as a means of living. For her part, Daya Rani says she needs no money to fund her campaign.
She believes that while her opponents may have large sums to spend on their campaigns, she has something better – the public’s affection.
“They are ready to give me money, but I have told them that I don’t want notes – I want your votes. People have told me that their heart and money is with me,” Daya Rani Kinnar said.
However, her opponents are not taking her seriously saying she is not even close to getting enough support to beat them. Irrespective of the outcome she has become a symbol of change in the normally conservative Indian society.

Thursday's voting was disrupted by Maoist militants in central and eastern states. The violence left at least 17 people dead  – including police, polling officials, soldiers and civilians. Three election officials were kidnapped.

The USA against Aafia Siddiqui


Published: 09 August, 2010, 08:10
Edited: 09 August, 2010, 19:59

During two years of hearings, a Pakistan citizen who was charged with being the only terrorist woman in Al Qaeda has turned into an unarmed person who allegedly managed fighting six American officers.
The US District Court in New York has postponed announcing Aafia Siddiqui’s sentence. She was suspected of organizing a trade network for Liberian blood diamonds to fund Al Qaeda. She was tried, however, for attacking US officers. Her lawyers are hoping she gets not a life sentence, but rather a maximum of 12 years imprisonment.
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is 38. She was born in Pakistan to the family of a neurosurgeon. She studied in the USA from 1990 to 2001, including at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has a PhD in neurobiology. Her three children were born in the USA.
In 2008, protests against arresting and trying Aafia Siddiqui were one of the crucial arguments of the Pakistani opposition that forced President Musharraf to resign. Now this argument is used by opponents of current President Zardari, whose position has been weakened by the high death toll from the ongoing floods.

Al Qaeda facilitator or a victim of the Secret Service?

She went missing with her kids in 2003 in Pakistan when she left her parents’ place in her car. Pakistani press reported she was being interrogated by the FBI in Pakistan. Then she disappeared. In 2004, John Ashcroft, the US attorney general, called Aafia “the main Al Qaeda facilitator.”
According to different Pakistani human rights officers, from Нuman Rights Watch (HRW) to the Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Humanitarian Support Committee, between 700 and 1,600 people have gone missing in Pakistan since 9/11. Pakistani human rights officers believe that the secret services of their country, in cooperation with the CIA, are responsible for their kidnappings.
In July 2008, UK journalist Yvonne Riddley stated that Aafia Siddiqui was kept at the US military base prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, where she was being tortured and raped. Amnesty International (AI) declared Aafia Siddiqui a hostage illegally held at the military base.

Wire agencies spread the information that Aafia Siddiqui was detained by the Afghan military near the Gazni governor’s home, and handed over to American servicemen. According to somewhat contradicting information, the woman was walking around the governor’s house with a map of New York, on which sights were marked. Moreover, she was carrying chemicals, a pamphlet containing bomb manufacture instructions, a plan for poisoning former US presidents Carter and Bush Sr., as well as a flash drive with letters to Al Qaeda members.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (a presidential candidate at the time) thanked the Secret Service for doing a good job.

The Grey Lady

In August 2008, Aafia Siddiqui was brought to the USA for further investigation and trial. Her sister, Dr. Fouzia Siddiqui, a former Harvard student, witnessed that Aafia looked like she weighed no more than 45 kilograms and was extremely exhausted; she could barely move or talk, and her facial bones looked fractured.
After a two-year trial, she was charged with attacking the US servicemen and agents who were trying to interrogate her. According to the prosecution, she grabbed a rifle from one of the officers and tried shooting. Media continue calling her “the grey lady of Al Qaeda.”
The conviction is based on testimonials from FBI officers and the US army, as well as on the words of Gary Woodwort, a member of the Braintree Rifle and Pistol Club in Massachusetts. He insists that he remembers teaching Aafia Siddiqui to shoot a gun in the early 1990s.
On February 3, the US District Court in Manhattan pronounced her guilty. Her sentence was supposed to be announced on August 6, then it was postponed to August 16; now, it’s August 23.
Nadezhda Kevorkova, RT

Women forced to take justice in their hands in rural India


Published: 20 May, 2010, 09:38
Edited: 27 May, 2010, 10:41
India, New Delhi : Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), AFP Photo / Manpreet Romana

One in three women in India is reportedly a victim of domestic violence. Few of their cases make it to court and those that do experience long and costly cases.
But in the north of the country, a group of women are taking the law into their own hands.
They may wear pink saris, but this is not a fashion statement – they wear pink as a symbol of their cause. These vigilante women go after corrupt officials and violent husbands with sticks. Numbering over 100,000 in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, they proudly call themselves the Gulabi Gang or ‘pink gang’.
Their leader is 48-year-old Sampat Pal, who first decided to act when she witnessed domestic violence.
“My neighbor was a young girl who had been married very early. Her husband used to beat her, so I argued with him,” remembers gang Leader Sampat Gulabi Pal. “He threatened me, so I came back with five women and we beat him up. Since then, this movement has taken off. Whenever a woman is beaten or harassed, she comes to me.”
Banda is one of the poorest districts in Uttar Pradesh. Women bear the brunt of discrimination here – dowry demands and domestic violence are common.
“For the last month, my brother-in-law has been hitting me with a stick. He hit my son so badly that he started bleeding,” said Siya Rani, who has come to Sampat for help after being beaten in her own home. She explained that she “approached the police but they didn’t help.”
“When women are harassed, instead of letting them waste years in courts looking for justice, we go to the village and try to arrange a settlement,” states Gulabi Gang leader Sampat Pal. “After all, men and women are two wheels of the same vehicle.”

Click to enlarge
Although most of the gang's actions are on behalf of women, they are increasingly called upon by men. When local farmers decided to take to the streets to demand compensation for failed crops, they asked the Gulabi Gang to be there. “The Gulabi Gang takes up the cause of anybody who faces injustice, whether they are poor or rich,” shared supporter Ashok Srivastava. “It may take money and time, but these women fight against injustice and raise their voices for the innocent.”
But Sampat herself is in danger of being criminalized. Following complaints by the police, she is waiting to hear if she will be formally charged with rioting and attacking government employees.
“The police tell us, ‘Don’t take the law in your own hands.’ So I tell them, ‘We have no option. When we have no faith in the police, we have to protect ourselves.’” Sampat Pal argues.
In rural India, with the administration often corrupt and failing to deliver, and with women still amongst the most oppressed, it was only a matter of time before movements such as Gulabi Gang became popular.

US pilot wants UN to help sue George Bush


Published: 22 May, 2009, 06:16
Edited: 01 June, 2010, 10:24

Former Boeing pilot sent a message to Russia’s UN Ambassador through a newspaper in order to secure his help in suing ex-US President George W. Bush.
An American citizen, Anthony Caither, passed his letter to Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin through the office of Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Independent Daily). The Russian diplomat is being asked to facilitate bringing to trial the ex-president of the US, George W. Bush, and certain top American officials on the charge of crimes against humanity.
It looks like this crusade against the former administration of the US is gaining momentum.
In his letter, Caither says he contacted the Russian diplomat because Churkin currently presides as head of the UN Security Council.
According to Caither, he has already filed a lawsuit in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against former president Bush, the ex-United States Attorney General, Alberto R. Gonzales, and Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller.
On March 12, 2009 the ICC ruled that it has no jurisdiction over American citizens because the US never recognized its authority. That is why Caither’s revised and amended lawsuit is now addressed to the UN Security Council. Cither says this is actually not the first time he tried his luck in the UN, but now he lays his hope with the Russian chairman.
Well, whatever Caither may seem to be, there is a public campaign in the US that is trying to bring to trial the former American administration and this is an incontestable fact.
First of all, this has to do with the questionable methods the Bush administration chose to prosecute terror suspects, which included torture.
So far, the Bush supporters have managed to control the situation. The Supreme Court of the United States has not decided to support terror suspects who spent months and years under arrest in high-security prisons. Deportation after confinement, without filing accusation, has become common practice.
Up to now, none of the high-ranking official from the Bush administration has been brought before the courts on a charge of human rights violation or authorizing the use of practice of sensory deprivation interrogation techniques.
In the meantime, the Pentagon has officially confirmed that over 400 officials received disciplinary punishment or have been jailed for abusing prisoners.
Human rights activists in the US are becoming particularly active when it comes to focusing on the legal advisers from the US Department of Justice who laid a foundation for the admission of sensory deprivation interrogation techniques and have threatened to strip them of their ability to practice law.
Whether these high-ranking officials are going to be brought to court is a purely political question. President Barack Obama mentioned that the answer to this issue will come from United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder who, in turn, promised to review the evidence and comply with the law.
Anyways, the debates around the torture of terror suspects are becoming more and more painful for the new American administration. Obama’s decision on publishing photos showing the torturing of POWs was called off. But wouldn’t the promise made to the CIA agents that used torture, “according to instruction”, which compounded the offence be called off as well?
The recent accusations against the CIA made by Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, suggests that everything is possible. Probably the witch-hunting season has opened.
Still, the Bush legacy is something that is not that easy to sort out and the example of Guantanamo Bay’s special prison may serve as a good example. Strange as it may seem, Obama probably has to keep operating the prison– with all the detainees – simply because nobody knows where to put them once the prison is closed, as the US Senate is sharply opposed to letting the detained terrorists onto American soil.

“Signs of Allah” appear on infant’s skin


Published: 28 October, 2009, 12:06
Edited: 17 February, 2010, 10:53
Ali Yakubov and his grandmother

A miracle or a simple hoax? Parents of a nine-month-old child claim their son has been marked by God, while doctors say the extracts from the Koran on his skin have nothing to do with divine intervention.
Soon after Ali was born to an ordinary and not very religious family, strange writings began appearing on his skin. The Arabic characters turned out to be extracts from the Muslim Holy book, the Koran. At first, Ali’s parents concealed this fact, but when yet another writing reading “Show these signs to people” appeared, the news spread all around Ali’s native Dagestan, Russia’s Muslim republic.
The child’s mother, Madina Yakubova, says the writings appear every Monday and Friday, with Ali having a major fever on these days. “[Ali] can’t sleep at night when the signs appear. He tortures himself,” says Madina.
The writings are always different – new characters replace the old ones every time.
Local religious officials believe these are the signs of Almighty Allah. The head of the North Caucasus Muslims coordinating centre Ismail Berdyev insists the epistles are mainly addressed to unreligious people.
“Let them see that these signs are not accidental. These are God’s signs. We, Muslims, realize it. Let skeptics and nonbelievers realize it as well,” he insists.
Russia’s Mufti Council sees the message of the miracle otherwise.

“Signs of Allah” on Ali's skin
“We interpret the signs as a call to Dagestan and all Russian Muslims. They should turn towards Allah, repent their sins, give up conflicts and fratricide, which have hit Dagestan and the whole of the Caucasus,” a statement on their official website says. Meanwhile, doctors think otherwise. They are almost sure the signs have been written by Ali’s parents.
Lyudmila Luss from Russia’s institute of immunology says the writings have been most likely made physically or chemically.
“Substances like pepper or salt can produce such a reaction on the skin,” she says. It can also be a result of urticarious dermographism, she added, which is a skin disorder seen in 4–5% of the population. The skin then becomes raised and inflamed when stroked or rubbed with a dull object.
So far, Ali’s family has refused to make any meticulous dermatologic examination. In the meantime, Russian media report that Ali was initially diagnosed with coronary heart disease and cerebral spastic infantile paralysis, but when his abnormalities began he miraculously recovered.
Ali’s native village has already become a top destination for over 2000 Muslim pilgrims from all over Dagestan and neighboring republics. People have shot videos and taken photos of Ali. They have taken all his clothes, Madina Yakubova says. In return they present him with new ones.
“It’s hard to predict the future of this child,” one of the many pilgrims told RT.
“He needs to be guarded though, because enemies of Islam may kill him. This place may become sacred, and people should pilgrimage here,” he added.
Read also – Wonder-Child Displaying Word of Quran Never Appears in Big City

Costs of manhood can be too much


Published: 05 July, 2009, 17:09

It is initiation season, the time when many South African males are sent away boys and expected to return as circumcised men. Some don't make the cut and end up in critical condition. Some don't return at all.
When police raided an illegal circumcision school in the Eastern Cape, they discovered the body of a 22-year-old left in the forest.
“It was not even a proper burial. They just dug a shallow hole and put branches on top,” said Sizwe Kupelo, Media Officer for the Eastern Cape Department of Health.
On another occasion, the department reported that four young males were reported dead in less than a day.
These youths all had the same desire— they wanted to be initiated into the realm of men. They did not want to suffer the cultural stigma of retaining their foreskin. The cost of their pursuit was death.
Initiation is a rigorous process where young men are secluded in off-beaten areas in the forest or mountains, usually for two weeks. They are oftentimes forced to bear harsh conditions and are taught lessons about their social responsibilities, such as marriage. Most importantly, they are circumcised.
While successful initiations are highly regarded and joyous occasions, too many are disastrous. Every year the government expresses intentions and initiatives to make becoming a man safer. Still, every season is marred by hundreds of young South Africans who get more or less than they bargain for— like blood infections and amputated penises.
Although there is a Circumcision Act that regulates the ownership of initiation schools and those who can perform surgeries, traditional circumcisions are regularly performed by untrained individuals in illegal initiation schools.

Furthermore, whether legal or illegal, the settings tend to be unhygienic. Traditional surgeons, without gloves and proper access to water, use one un-sterilized blade to circumcise a group of boys on a single occasion – resulting in group complications.
On Monday, when the Department of Health reported the death of a 15-year-old at a hospital near Mthatha, they also reported that seven other males were admitted with him.
Although most of those admitted to hospitals do not die, many of them bear permanent damage. Some lose the tips of their penises to gangrene. Others must forego their entire male genitalia.
Botched circumcisions, not only cost young men and their families, but they tax the province as well. After last year’s initiation season, it was estimated to have cost the government over $100 per day per person admitted for treatment. A single hospital reported 535 admissions, and a portion of those were young men who were in critical care and could not be quickly released.
This year the situation is not looking more optimistic on any account. The number admitted to hospitals and the double-digit death toll have authorities worried.
In some parts of the province the situation is very bad, Kupelo says. In Eastern Pondoland, “the situation has prompted local state doctors to go out in teams with police to treat youths at schools.”
“They can’t watch the boys die any longer,” he said.
Michelle Smith for RT

Child porn in open access at Swedish National Library


Published: 22 April, 2009, 10:19

Sweden’s legacy of lax attitudes towards sex has come back to haunt the country’s National Library, which has been found to house large quantities of child pornography in its collection.
While it’s widely known that a wave of liberal thinking swept across Sweden in the 1960s, fewer people are aware that it led to the legalization of child pornography.
When Valentin Bart published his latest novel he had to give four copies to the Royal Library in Stockholm. They archive everything that was ever printed in Sweden. And it’s available for anyone – with a membership card and an idea of what they are looking for.
“If you look at their database, you find titles like ‘bambino’ or ‘Lolita’, etc.,” Bart shares of his discoveries. “What I saw were young boys aged between ten and twelve involved in different sexual activities.”
Child porn was legal in Sweden between 1971 and 1980. Magazines from that era have been stored in the Royal Library for over 30 years. Bart says the staff knew what they were lending out, but no one ever raised the alarm.
“We worry people have been using these images in ways other than for academic research. The library served pedophiles, and it is guilty of a crime, a crime against children, and we want society to know that,” said Birgitta Holmberg from the Association of abused children.
The Library had no comment. Police are now investigating the issue.
In response to what the library has called a delicate issue, access to this particular collection has been closed. The management says they are reviewing their lending policy.
Many are beginning to wonder whether a state institution like the Royal Library could be exempt from the law. Anyone who produces, purchases, or is in possession of pornographic images of children risks up to six years behind bars in Sweden.
The Queen is a staunch advocate of children's rights – but the Royal Family has yet to comment.
Bart’s investigation didn’t make the headlines in Sweden. The writer claims it was hushed up as it made many people uncomfortable. But he says facing the embarrassing pages of national history is everyone’s duty, just like reporting a pedophile next door.

Female genital mutilation on the rise in UK – medical officials


Published: 24 August, 2010, 16:45
Edited: 25 August, 2010, 23:49

Although the practice of female genital mutilation is illegal in the UK, thousands are considered to be at risk annually – and no one has ever been convicted of the crime.
Aged 15, UK-born Jay Kamara was taken home to Sierra Leone by her mother for an initiation ceremony. Jay had vague ideas of evenings around the fire, cooking and gossiping with female relatives. She had no idea that during the celebration of her womanhood, her genitalia would be cut.
“I was laid down on the floor, lots of hands, lots of celebration cheers, etc… And then my mouth was covered and my legs were spread, and I felt pain… I think that the pain itself will never, ever leave me,” Jay Kamara says. “I can understand how people feel when they lose an arm or a leg, when they have that phantom kind of pain, all the time, and that’s the kind of pain that I personally have to live with on a day-to-day basis… Some people say it’s really quick, but for me, it felt like it was being sawn.”
The women’s rights organization “FORWARD” estimates that 6,500 girls in the UK are at risk of female genital mutilation every year. The most common age for girls to have the procedure is between 6 and 8 years of age.
The summer holidays are a prime time, because there is an opportunity for a long visit back to the family’s country of origin. And, although it is illegal in the UK, there is evidence that it is nonetheless being performed in the country.
Female genital mutilation is performed for cultural reasons, and justified as a religious requirement, or rite of passage to womanhood. Much like male circumcision, it is supposed to ensure cleanliness and better marriage prospects. However, it often has serious and long-lasting physical complications, and St. Thomas’ Hospital in London is one of the centers that deals with those repercussions.
Some girls die – they bleed to death or develop tetanus infections when dirty instruments are used.
Midwife Comfort Momoh sees the lasting effects of female genital mutilation, which include cysts on the vagina, and sterility.
“They’ve removed everything, and stitched it up, leaving a small opening for the passage of menstrual fluid, urine, etc., and they expect the women to have sexual intercourse from this small opening,” says Momoh, a midwife at St. Thomas’ Hospital.

Female genital mutilation is thought to be so prevalent in the UK that local authorities have set up task forces to identify when children are at risk.
But this is a practice that has gone on for centuries in some African and Arabic countries, and it is entrenched in families.
“We acknowledge that in some communities this has been custom and practice. And we acknowledge that some females who’ve had this procedure done to them may feel that it’s appropriate to do it to their own daughters, and this is why it’s an important matter of education, as well as acknowledging that it’s an illegal act,” says Andrew Fraser from the London Safeguarding Children Board.
Despite its illegality, there has never been a single conviction against someone who has arranged or performed female genital mutilation in the UK.
Victim Jay Kamara says that has a lot to do with the terminology used.
“For me personally, I hate the term mutilation,” Jay Kamara says. “I’m not mutilated, I’ve been cut, but I’m not mutilated, and I think the whole mutilation term is very negative, and I think it just causes a lot of survivors to go underground because no one wants to walk down the street with the term over their heads.”
With legislation proving ineffective, it is a culture that the British authorities have so far failed to eradicate, leaving thousands of its citizens at risk every year.

Poisonous US weapons in Iraq kill thousands and mar generations


Published: 23 October, 2010, 09:36
Edited: 28 October, 2010, 17:35
AFP Photo / Ali Al-Saadi

US commanders in Iraq ignored evidence of torture and the murder of civilians. These are the major findings from the leak of 400,000 secret American military files from the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said the goal of the latest release is to reveal the hidden truth.
”The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends. In our release of these 400,000 documents about Iraq war, the intimate detail of that war from the US perspective, we hope to correct some of that attack on the truth,” he said.
The data describes the widespread and brutal torture of detainees by Iraqi troops, with some documents showing American authorities often turned a blind eye.

The Pentagon has condemned what is the largest-ever leak of classified documents, saying it will only serve to help America's enemies.
The files also reveal that 66,000 civilians were killed in Iraq since the US invaded – even though Washington had denied it kept any such record.
The figure does not include scores of deaths during the US two major offensives on the city of Fallujah in 2004. Its residents are still fighting the severest consequences of those attacks.
After the shrapnel struck 16-year-old Malik’s head, a tumor appeared. Now he is fighting a cancer that is eating away at his head and stomach while his friends are fighting for the ball on a football pitch.
“I collected the splinters of the rocket after it exploded,” said the boy’s uncle Mohammed Ali. “Whoever I showed them to said they were American and contaminated, poisoned.”
Malik’s father lost a leg in the attack and also the family’s source of income as a taxi driver.
“I wonder what weapons they didn’t use against us,” said Musa Khudir, Malik’s father. “We in Fallujah are all contaminated. Sometimes I can hardly breathe.”
Iraq is littered with buildings that used to be headquarters of Saddam’s secret police. In 2003 they underwent multiple rocket attacks. The full effect of those weapons is still being felt today.
US marines first bombarded Fallujah six years ago. It came after four employees of the American security company Blackwater were killed and their bodies burned. A report showed that after the eight-month standoff, higher rates of cancer, leukemia and infant mortality were found than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bomb drops in World War II.
“We found that the infant mortality rates compared with Egypt and Jordan were about four or five times higher, and about ten times higher if you taker countries like Kuwait, where there is good health care,” said Dr Chris Busby, author of “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth-Sex Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2006”
In the last few years, hundreds of deformed babies have been born in Fallujah’s general hospital. Doctors dub them the “white phosphorous children”.
“Between the late ’90s and 2003, we had patients with nervous system malfunctions roughly three times a year,” said Dr Samira Al-Ani, a pediatrician from Fallujah General Hospital. “At there moment we’re getting three such patients a week.”
There are cases of children being born with one eye. And with not a single day going past without a new case being registered, more and more doctors here are pointing the finger at the United States.
“The American combat operation caused environmental pollution,” said the chairman of the Women’s Council of the Human Rights Commission. “Both the US and British sides admitted that they employed banned weapons.”
Dr Abdu Wahab Al-Falluji is head of the Interior Diseases Department of Fallujah General Hospital and also a father – or at least he was until a year ago when his 12-year-old son died of cancer.
“Most parents leave their babies in the hospital,” he told RT. “They’re scared by the way they look. These babies are doomed to die.”
And die far from the eyes of the world, because while Fallujah’s streets might today be quiet, the city remains cut off from the rest of the country. Doctors here say they are under pressure to keep quiet.

According to RT contributor Wayne Madsen, the WikiLeaks revelations show the US knew exactly what was going on in Iraq.
“I think we are seeing the US basically responsible for the same kinds of crimes that we allowed Iraq to execute Saddam Hussein and other members of his government for doing,” he said. “We replace one brutal regime with the US-backed brutal regime.”
”I think that if this was a fair system of international justice, we would see indictments of Misters Bush and Cheney, and Tony Blair and some the US military commanders in Iraq,” he added.

Every tenth prisoner in UK is a war veteran


Published: 09 October, 2009, 14:05
Edited: 05 February, 2010, 01:20

TAGS: Crime, Health, Military, UK

Thousands of British troops coming back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress and fail to get back to normal life. They blame their government for abandoning them.
Trained to kill, and often recovering from the trauma of war, reintegrating into society is a struggle that is frequently too overwhelming. Almost one tenth of the UK prison population is comprised of veterans of armed conflicts. And 20,000 – or twice the number of troops currently serving in Afghanistan – are either in jail or on parole.
"What we have is an extraordinary number of soldiers in the justice system: around about 8-9% of the total which, if we take out the unemployed, makes them the largest professional group," says Harry Fletcher, Assistant General Secretary at the National Association of Probation Officers in London.
In more than half of the cases, veterans were suffering from persistent flashbacks, nightmares, and paranoia. Neil – not his real name – was recently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He fought in the Falklands in 1982. Some years after leaving, he spent 2 years in prison for a sexual offence. Neil says often soldiers are never wound down for re-entry into civilian life.
“You’re built up and built up and built up but you’re never actually switched off again at the end of it. It was like that on the way down to the Falklands. That all we wanted to do was get off the boat and kill somebody. But when we came back, we still had that – that’s still how we felt,” says Falklands veteran.
The Ministry of Defence says it “considers all mental disorders seriously, and offers assessment and treatment to individuals who might be concerned about their mental health.” But some say in the long run, it is the duty of a country to look after its veterans.
"I think the state has got to look to its conscience. If these men are good enough to risk their lives for the country then they must be good enough to get help and support on release no matter what it costs. And in the long term if we end up with not 20,000 men in the justice system but 10,000 then the state will save money anyway," Harry Fletcher says.
Neil had counseling for 7 months after leaving prison. He now feels he can cope with life again despite the trauma etched into his memory. But as for the time he served in the military, he has no regrets.
"It was worth it. There’s no way I can blame the service, because you volunteered, you know that you’d have to go and fight at some stage, and that was it. Once you’ve done that, it’s not the Marines’ problem, it’s the government’s problem. ‘We’ve pulled you out of the frying pan, help us along a bit after we get out.’ But they don’t…" Neil says.
Neil applied for a war pension, on the grounds of PTSD and other injuries received in the Marines. He was turned down because he couldn’t prove his symptoms stemmed from his time in the Falklands.
There’s currently no government agency that offers stress counseling when servicemen and women return from active duty. And with British troops currently engaged in yet another large scale conflict overseas, continuing to deny a real problem with veterans in the justice system could mean the government is sitting on a time bomb.

The voice of broken soldiers


Published: 12 November, 2009, 11:05
Edited: 06 February, 2010, 01:43
A British soldier chats with Iraqi boys (AFP Photo / Essam Al-Sudani)

We are telling the other angle of war, not the romanticized aspect that the government prefers, says Martin Webster, a war veteran, activist and artist.
In 2006, British soldier Martin Webster hit the headlines after being involved in a media scandal when he filmed British troops in Iraq beating up Iraqi youths during a siege at Al Amara in 2004, when British soldiers got in the middle of a crossfire. Webster says local youths were actively participating in the melee, throwing at the soldiers not only stones, but hand grenades as well.
Webster explains that “Once the children started using grenades and firing RPGs, they certainly became a threat to our lives. Our underlying issue as infantry soldiers is to preserve life – our lives and civilians around. So once you pick up a weapon and you are going to use it – you become a target for us to either be captured, arrested or killed.”
“When video cameras became widely available I do not think that the [British] government accounted for the fact that the public is going to see how horrific the war is,” remembers Webster. “You’re fighting kids [in Iraq]. People find it very hard that their Western boys are fighting children. That is the horrible fact of war. Those bombers were in their teens.” He added that the notorious clip with British soldiers beating up Iraqi youth destroyed his life.
To overcome post traumatic stress disorder that “isolates you from society”, Webster made a documentary “Diary of a Disgraced Soldier” – a video diary mixed with his own thoughts about war. The documentary was also made with the intention of proving his innocence after the scandal in the media.
“The whole film became like a form of catharsis and I learnt a lot about myself and I would not change anything for the word. I am really glad of what happened to me and I am very fortunate to be in a position to speak out for the soldiers that have gone through similar situations,” he says.