Friday, September 30, 2011

Somalia: Al Shabab Recruits ‘Holy Warriors’ With $400 Bonus

    So, here we are again with another group of window lickers paying more than the local government to raise an army.  If we want to invigorate the government and it’s army, then they need the money to at least be able to pay more than the Al Shabab. That’s just common sense, and the rule of choice.
   Even this industry is guided by this rule.  People not only join something because they believe in it, but they also join a group/company/gang because it will improve their capacity for independent action. It could be for food, money, protection, whatever–we are all striving to improve our lot in life. If Al Shabab has a better deal than the government, then that is what the government should worry about and fix. -Matt
Somalia’s Al Shabab Recruits ‘Holy Warriors’ with $400 Bonus
War-torn and Impoverished, Some Somali Youths Join Extremist Group to Make Money
April 17, 2010
When Dahir Abdi joined the Somali extremist group Al-Shabab early last year, his motive had more to do with money than with God.
Back home in the Barawa district of southern Somalia, his parents and younger brothers and sisters were living on less than a single meal per day. His mother was too weak to fetch firewood to sell in the market, and too poor to buy the all-covering veil that was now required by Al-Shabab.
So when a recruiter from Al Shabab (whose name means “the youth” in Arabic) gave him $400 and the promise of a regular salary, Dahir joined willingly. He knew that even if he didn’t survive the war, his family would have a better chance to ward off starvation.
By the time Dahir arrived for six months of training at a camp in the densely forested southern coastal town of Ras Kiamboni, it was clear that he was just one of hundreds of young recruits preparing for war. It was clear, too, that deserting from Shabab  which has declared its allegiance to  would be dangerous.
“When they recruited me, I was told I am going to fight against the African Union troops and against the Transitional Government, which didn’t want an Islamic government,” says Dahir, a talkative young man with a lean frame, who deserted Al Shabab late last year and now lives in hiding. Looking nervously from side to side as he spoke with a reporter in the Dagahley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, he continues. “I was given $400 before I left home, and this I gave to my father and bid my family goodbye. They didn’t want me to leave. My father looked at me in tears and prayed for my safe homecoming.”
When the government of Somalia launches its long-threatened offensive against Al Shabab, it will be young men like Dahir who will be in the front lines, recruited by unscrupulous businessmen, trained by Pakistani, Afghan and Arab experts, and guided by a harsh ideology of jihad promulgated by Al Qaeda and its Islamist followers.
Al Shabab losing its appeal?
Somalia has been largely ungoverned for nearly 20 years, so the appeal of a hard-talking government based on religion has strong appeal in certain quarters. But the testimonies of several Al Shabab deserters interviewed by the Monitor shows that the Islamist militia is built less on a firm ideology  seen by many Somalis to be alien to their understanding of Islam — than on a combination of monetary lures and threats.
“Everybody hates to die, and everybody wants to go to heaven, but to go to heaven, you have to die: that is what they tell recruits,” says Omar Sharif, a Somali businessman who travels between Mogadishu and Nairobi, and who has family members on both sides of the looming fight. “Shabab is in a decline right now, because people are not happy with what they are doing, but they still have a strong impact on youths inside the country, as well as here in Kenya.”
Yet as long as Somalia remains war-torn, and as long as Somalis remain poor, Shabab will be able to find willing fighters, Mr. Sharif says. “Somalis have a lot of children, and the school system is destroyed, so for many poor families, the madrassas (religious schools) are the only option where children can get at least a basic education. That is where Shabab goes to recruit.”
Virtually unknown four years ago, Al Shabab has rapidly grown to become the strongest military force in Somalia, imposing its own selective interpretation of Islamic law on the southern half of Somalia that is under its control. Al Shabab troops in the very heart of Mogadishu prevent the weak Western-backed government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed from extending its authority beyond a few square blocks of the capital, along with the airport and Mogadishu’s seaport.

How strong is Al Shabab?
Estimates of Shabab’s fighting force are quite small, often around 3000 trained fighters with perhaps another 3000 untrained and poorly armed militia members providing logistical support. Mixed into this ragtag army are perhaps 200 foreign fighters  including Afghans, Pakistanis, Arabs, Chechens, and even a few white American converts — attracted to Al-Shabab by the promise of establishing and defending a “pure” Islamic state, as described by the Prophet Mohammed in the Quran.
Shabab’s strongholds are in the lower third of the country, from the borders of Kenya and Ethiopia and over to the coastal cities of Mogadishu and Kismayo. Shabab deserters say different camps specialize in different types of training. The Al Faruq Brigades, who train at Elberde in the Hiraan region, for instance, trains suicide bombers, as does the Salahudeen unit in the Huriwa district of Mogadishu. The Muaskar Faruq base in Ras Kiamboni specializes in automatic weapons and hand-to-hand combat, while the Eel Aarfid base specializes in training kidnapping skills.
Liban Elmi, a 30-year-old recruit from Nairobi, was jobless and attending a religious school, or madrassa, when he was recruited by an cousin to join Al-Shabab. His cousin’s selling point was simple and direct: Since Mr. Elmi was an orphan with few job prospects, it would be better for him to go up north to his family’s ethnic homeland and fight an Islamic war of liberation than to continue living off his relatives.
“I was desperate, and I was convinced to join because I had nothing else to do,” says Elmi, speaking to a reporter in a private home in Dadaab, close to the refugee camp where he lives. The recruiters told him to change his image, stop shaving, and to start chewing khat, a leaf that has mildly narcotic qualities. In this way, when he disappeared, people would just assume that he had simply gone astray, rather than gone to join a pious religious movement like Al Shabab.
Crossing into Somalia on foot, he and a group of 40 other recruits travelled with a group of Pakistani clerics to the town of Ras Kiamboni. It was there that Elmi joined a fighting unit, and got training in the use of AK-47s and in martial arts. Within weeks of the end of training, Elmi was sent to Mogadishu, where he quickly found himself on the front lines. In heavy fighting last August, a bullet struck Elmi in his right leg, which later had to be amputated by a Shabab doctor. He now hobbles around on an artificial leg that was purchased in Nairobi, but fitted onto him at a Shabab hospital in Mogadishu.
“Now, I’m looking for a way to sustain myself,” he says, bitterly. “I can’t join them again, because even though it’s possible to fix my leg to allow me to fight in combat again, Al Shabab won’t spend the money on me because I’m a foreign fighter. I still resent my cousin, who told me to join.”
Al Shabab Recruits Men and Women
Young women are not exempt from Al Shabab recruitment. In the displacement camps on both sides of the Kenyan-Somali border, older women travel from tent to tent, encouraging impoverished families to give their daughters to the holy struggle, or jihad.
“The women tell our parents, ‘Before a man is given a gun, he must be given a woman, so that he can leave something behind,’” says Shamis Abdulaziz, a 25-year-old, who is herself married to an Al-Shabab fighter. “They say, ‘There is no need for you at home. Get married to the mujahideen who are fighting in the fields.’”
Ms. Abdulaziz left her family in Afmadow, a district of southern Somalia, as a willing Shabab recruit. She had been told she would receive training in collecting intelligence, in carrying explosives, and driving supplies from one camp to another. On arrival at the Shabab camp near Afmadow, each girl was told to take off her shoes and put them in a pile. A few minutes later, Shabab fighters walked into the tent and chose a shoe at random. The owner of that shoe became his wife.
“They told us it was our responsibility on behalf of the jihad,” says Abdulaziz proudly. “Now,” she says, “I am one of those women, who convinces young women to marry a young Shabab fighter.”
Story here.

Saudis want political prisoners released

Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:21PM GMT
During protest rallies, Saudi demonstrators hold the pictures of their loved ones, who have been in prison without trial for years. (File Photo)
Hundreds of anti-government protesters have poured into the streets in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, demanding the immediate release of political prisoners.

Chanting slogans against the country's absolute monarchy, demonstrators in the cities of Qatif and Awamiyah on Friday also expressed solidarity with anti-government protesters in neighboring Bahrain and condemned Manama's violent crackdown on peaceful protesters.

The protests come despite tight security and a strict ban on all anti-government rallies.

Saudi activists say there are more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly Prisoner of conscience, in jails across the Kingdom.

According to the activists, most of the detained political thinkers are being held by the government without trials or legitimate charges and they were arrested for merely looking suspicious.

Some of the detainees are reported to be held without trial for more than 16 years.

Attempting to incite the public against the government and the allegiance to foreign entities are usually the ready-made charges against political dissidents.

Families of political prisoners have repeatedly pleaded with the ruling monarchy to at least give their loved ones a fair trial. But for years now, the families say, the king has ignored their calls.

Human Rights Watch says more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government's crackdown on anti-government protesters.

According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees were subject to both physical and mental torture.


Killing of American in Yemen raises legal questionsinShar12


NEW YORK | Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:20pm EDT
(Reuters) - Legal experts who have long criticized a U.S. government program to kill members of al Qaeda abroad as a breach of international law say the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki on Friday may also have broken U.S. law.
Al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and has been linked to al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, was killed by a CIA drone strike in a remote Yemeni town, U.S. authorities said.
"The fact that (al-Awlaki) was a dual U.S.-Yemeni citizen means that he had extra protections under the U.S. constitution than he would not have had if he was just a Yemeni citizen," said Mary Ellen O'Connell, an international law professor at the University of Notre Dame's law school. "So the president has done something in my view that is highly questionable under our own Constitution."
Al-Awlaki, who lived in Virginia before leaving the United States shortly after September 11, 2001, was the first U.S. citizen who the White House authorized U.S. agencies to kill since the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington a decade ago.
U.S. officials said al-Awlaki took a leadership role in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and was involved in failed terrorist attacks on U.S. targets. He also had contacts with a military psychiatrist accused of carrying out a deadly shooting rampage that killed 13 people in 2009 at the Fort Hood army base in Texas.
Under the Obama administration, the United States has stepped up its use of drone strikes to target alleged terrorists. In a speech last year, U.S. Department of State legal adviser Harold Koh defended the targeting of individuals, which he said complied with all "applicable law, including the laws of war."
Koh said that a "state that is engaged in an armed conflict or in legitimate self-defense is not required to provide targets with legal process before the state may use lethal force."
"Our procedures and practices for identifying lawful targets are extremely robust, and advanced technologies have helped to make our targeting even more precise," he said.
A former U.S. national security official said that a drone strike can be launched against someone who is on the target list by relatively low-level officials -- senior officers in the CIA's Counter-terrorism Center. When someone on the list is in the sights of a drone, there is no requirement that the CIA director, or even the head of the National Clandestine Service, personally sign off on pressing the button, the source said.
But before al-Awlaki's name was placed on the target list, the CIA sent it to the White House for approval because he was a U.S. citizen, the source said.
"As we've seen today, it's a program under which U.S. citizens far removed from the battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process and on the basis of standards and evidence that are secret," said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last year, the ACLU and other civil liberties groups representing al-Awlaki's father lost a challenge to halt the Obama administration's program to capture or kill American citizens who join militant groups abroad.
U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington dismissed the case because he said the father lacked standing to bring the case and the court lacked jurisdiction over such a political case. However, he did not address the merits of the case and said it raised "vital considerations of national security and military and foreign affairs."
Some international law experts said that al-Awlaki's killing appeared to be on strong legal ground. Robert Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, agreed al-Awlaki had rights under the U.S. constitution, but he said that other circumstances justified the government's actions.
Because the government had evidence that al-Awlaki posed an operational threat -- as opposed to just being a vocal supporter of terrorism -- and because there was no real likelihood that al-Awlaki could be arrested, the United States had a legal right to take action, Chesney said.
"The million dollar question is: does the killing of al-Awlaki mean that the government can kill any American at any time if they claim they have intelligence showing the person is a terrorist?," he said. "The answer is, no, I don't think it shows that all."
But other experts said the government should have tried to arrest al-Awlaki and bring him to a U.S. court. The flouting of the law on the heels of the Middle East's Arab Spring set a bad example for the region, said O'Connell of Notre Dame.
O'Connell said that, in contrast to the killing of Osama bin Laden -- which she said appeared to follow international law -- the al-Awlaki killing did not.
"It's ironic to me that bin Laden, so much worse as far as we know than al-Awlaki, gets a treatment that's closer to the rule of law than al-Awlaki," she said.
(Reporting by Andrew Longstreth; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; editing by Eddie Evans)

Classic Recipe: Marcella Hazan's Famous Tomato Sauce

2011_04_18-Sauce02.jpgWhen it comes to essentials, like tomato sauce, originality is overrated. Marcella Hazan's classic tomato sauce is famous and adored, and justly so. Scads of bloggers and food writers have written about it, so I'm just following along. I thought it was worth a spotlight this week, as we talk about simple, fresh, inexpensive dinners. This is one of the best sauces I know, and it only needs four (yes, four) ingredients.
2011_04_18-Ingredients.jpgThe idea behind this tomato sauce is simple: Simmer a can of tomatoes with an onion and 5 tablespoons of butter. Add a pinch of salt and pull out the onion at the end, and you're left with a bright, velvety tomato sauce with a rich roundness from the butter. The butter doesn't saw off the edges of the tomatoes' tanginess in the way that sugar does; instead it complements the brightness and makes it shine.
This tomato sauce is also entirely hands-off. You don't even mince the onion. It's a great way to knock a meal together with a few cupboard staples. Serve it over pasta with a flurry of cheese, and enjoy tomato sauce with the flair of restaurant richness.
It doesn't replace my favorite meaty sauces, though; it's extraordinarily simple and minimalist. But it's very satisfying, and its ease cannot be beat. As a topping for ravioli, or a filling for lasagna, this sauce is spectacular.
My only change to the original recipe is the addition of black pepper. Look, I just can't eat a bowl of pasta without a bit of black pepper, and I think this sauce benefits from just a little flurry of pepper at the end.
Have you ever tried this famous sauce? What did you think?
Marcella Hazan's Amazing 4-Ingredient Tomato Sauce
Serves 2 to 4. Adapted in my own words from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes, no salt or herbs added
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small white onion, peeled and cut in half
Kosher salt
To serve
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Put a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, butter, onion halves, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat. Crush the tomatoes lightly with the back of a spoon as they cook, and stir occasionally. Simmer very gently for 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat appear on the surface of the tomatoes. Remove and discard the onion.
Serve over hot pasta with Parmesan and black pepper, if desired.
Related: Easy Weeknight Recipe: Hearty Tomato Sauce
(Images: Faith Durand)

Ngilu's son in law charged

Mutunga, Imams on collision course over women kadhis

Saturday, 1st October 2011

By Athman Amran and Linah Benyawa
Muslim leaders have differed with Chief Justice Willy Mutunga’s suggestion that women should also be appointed as kadhis.
While Chief Kadhi Sheikh Ahmad Muhdhar supports the move, some Muslim leaders cautioned the CJ against making pronouncements on matters concerning Islam without consulting Muslim scholars.
Sheikh Muhdhar said women can become kadhis as long as they are qualified.
"There is no law in Islam that prevents a woman from becoming a kadhi. The law is silent on this question," Muhdhar said Friday.
Muhdhar said the work of a kadhi is just to follow the Islamic law in discharging her duties although he added that there are some ‘small technicalities’, which he argued can be dealt with.
The work of a kadhi, he said, concerns matters of personal status like marriage, divorce and inheritance, which a woman can handle.
"The Islamic law does not allow men and women to interact freely but a woman kadhi would not be alone. If she cannot conduct a marriage in a mosque, where men and woman have separate areas, she can conduct it in her office," the chief kadhi said.
He said Kenya would not be the first country to have women kadhis and he gave examples of Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Turkey and Palestine among other Muslim countries. But the National Muslim Leaders Forum (Namlef) and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) told Dr Mutunga to desist treating the Kadhis courts like secular courts by suggesting the introduction of women kadhis.
"This is a religious institution and not a secular one," Namlef chairperson Sheikh Abdillahi Abdi said.
Supkem Director General Abdilatif Shaaban told the CJ to tread carefully when dealing with Islamic religious matters. "The CJ has to be careful. He has to consult local Muslim leaders and see how they would react to the suggestion," Shaaban said. He said there are some duties, like conducting marriages in mosques, where only men are involved. He, however, said there are women kadhis in a number of other Islamic countries.

Fighting Erupts on Somalia’s Border With Kenya


Dai Kurokawa/European Pressphoto Agency
A Somali boy at a food distribution center Monday in Mogadishu. The United Nations says that 750,000 people in Somalia are in urgent need of food.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Intense fighting erupted along the Kenya-Somalia border on Friday as the Shabab militant group tried to take back a slice of strategic territory from militias allied with the Somali government. At the same time, Shabab fighters are breaking up camps for victims of Somalia’s famine, sending tens of thousands of starving people straight back into drought-stricken areas.


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The Shabab militants say they will provide enough food to tide people over until the next harvest, expected around January, and some of the people who recently left seemed content with the initial rations of rice, sugar, powdered milk and oil that they had been given. But many aid officials worry that the famine victims are going to soon find themselves in a bleak and barren environment once back in their home villages and that dispersing them will complicate an already strained aid effort.
“This is a nightmare,” said a United Nations official who asked not to be identified because he was criticizing the Shabab and feared reprisals. “It has been hard enough to access famine victims in Shabab areas, and now that the people have been scattered, that means more checkpoints, more local authorities to deal with, more negotiations.”
It seems that the Shabab, who have lost several chunks of territory in the past few months, are regrouping to some degree. In August, Shabab leaders pulled hundreds of fighters out of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, calling it a strategic withdrawal, though it seemed more of an acknowledgment that their mostly young and inexperienced troops could no longer go toe-to-toe with a better armed and trained African Union peacekeeping force. The African Union has 9,000 soldiers in Mogadishu to support Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, whose own army is weak and fragmented.
But in recent days, witnesses have reported hundreds of Shabab fighters heading south toward Somalia’s border with Kenya. The border area is controlled by a fractious group of warlords and militias who get covert support from Kenya and Ethiopia and are nominally loyal to Somalia’s transitional government. On Friday before dawn, Shabab forces struck Dhobley, a market town jointly controlled by an Islamist warlord and a French-educated intellectual who is trying to form his own ministate called Azania, an ancient Greek name for the Horn of Africa.
According to Adan Adar, Somalia program director for the American Refugee Committee, a private aid group that assists feeding centers in Dhobley, the Shabab attacked from several different directions, and all sides had casualties.
“It was a big fight,” he said. “And it’s likely to impact humanitarian operations because there are many feeding centers in Dhobley.”
By midafternoon on Friday, witnesses said that the Shabab fighters had been repulsed and that the Kenyan military was poised to get involved should the Shabab try again to take Dhobley. The town is only a few miles from the border with Kenya, and Kenyan officials are increasingly concerned that the Shabab, a vehemently anti-Western group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, might attack inside Kenya.
A Kenyan security official interviewed Friday said that he had just been sent to the border and that hundreds of Kenyan soldiers and police officers were preparing to enter Somalia. Residents in the area reported seeing Kenyan fighter planes and helicopters flying over Dhobley, though Kenyan officials have thus far been careful not to engage directly in Somalia’s internal fighting — or at least not to allow such activities to be made public.
The Shabab control much of the southern third of Somalia, which has been hit by a famine caused by drought and war. The United Nations says that tens of thousands of people, mostly children, have already died and that 750,000 urgently need food and could starve to death in the next few months if aid efforts are not rapidly scaled up. The Shabab have blocked most large Western aid agencies from operating in their areas, and in a few places, the group’s fighters have set up their own camps to feed starving people who have fled drought zones, sometimes even forcing people to stay in their camps.
But last week, the group abruptly announced that it was closing several of its camps, and Shabab fighters began ordering tens of thousands of people to return to their farms to plant crops before the rainy season starts, which should be in a few weeks. The Shabab called it a “resettlement program,” and the picture was mixed about how well it was going.
In Buurhakaba, a midsize town that the Shabab control, residents said that after the Shabab closed down the camp there, many people decided to flee all the way to Kenya.
“There is no way for people to return home because back there, there’s nothing to eat,” Sultan Said, a resident of Buurhakaba, said by telephone.
But, he added, there had not been much food anyway in the Shabab-run camps because the Shabab fighters had been stealing it.
“They’re starving too,” Mr. Sultan said.
In Baidoa, a bigger Shabab-controlled town, some people who had sought help in the Shabab-run camps said the fighters had given them enough food to survive until the harvest. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Unicef have been able to distribute lifesaving food in some Shabab areas, and both organizations say that despite difficulties, they have been reaching more people in recent weeks.
One destitute farmer who spoke by telephone from a village about 50 miles outside of Baidoa said that he had been living in a Shabab-run camp in Baidoa for two months and that the militants had treated him and his five children fine. When the Shabab decided to shut down the camp about a week ago, he said, nobody protested and the Shabab provided sacks of food and rides by truck back to the home villages of the camp residents.
“If it rains, we’ll be O.K.; if it doesn’t, there will be famine,” the man said, adding that he did not like or dislike the Shabab.
But at the end of the interview, the man pleaded not to be identified, saying the Shabab did not allow people to talk to the news media.

US drone attacks kill 4 in Somalia

Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:8AM GMT
A US Predator drone firing two Hellfire missiles (file photo)
Two US drone airstrikes have killed at least 4 people and wounded 12 others in southern Somalia, Press TVreports.

Somali officials have confirmed US aerial attacks Thursday morning in an area between Kismayu and Dhoobley cities.

The US has increased the number of its attacks by unmanned surveillance aircraft in Somalia. Many civilians have died as a result.

Somalia is the sixth country where US military has engaged in unauthorized aerial bombing campaigns through the use of its remote-controlled aircraft.

The United States has also deployed its so-called drones for aerial attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.

Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though most of such attacks have mostly resulted in civilian casualties.


75 die of hunger, cholera in Somalia

Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:19PM GMT
At least another 75 children have died from severe malnutrition and cholera in south Somalia, leaving thousands of women and children at risk in the region, Press TV reports.

The victims died in the Gedo region of south Somalia, while thousands of people are fleeing their homes in search of drinking water and food.

Medical sources told Press TV that high food prices and the ongoing violence which is taking place in the conflict-plagued nation contribute to putting the people at higher risks, while the people also lack proper access to medical centers and shelters.

According to medics, the number of deaths has been increasing in the past 48 hours.

Doctors in Mogadishu hospitals say that overcrowding at the camps has been the main challenge to health workers.

The UN agency also pointed out that food deliveries have reached some 1.85 million people as of last week. The figure is almost half of those in need.

According to the United Nations, drought, high food prices and fighting in Somalia have increased the number of those in need of humanitarian assistance across the Horn of Africa to 13.3 million.


Rwanda genociders get 30 years

Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:47PM GMT
More than 800,000 people were killed in the Rwanda genocide of 1994. Pictured above is a shrine dedicated to the victims of the genocide.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has sentenced two former ministers to 30 years in prison for involvement in the genocide of 1994.

In the ICTR rulings issued on Friday, former public service minister Prosper Mugiraneza and former trade minister Justin Mugenzi were convicted of complicity to commit genocide and incitement to commit genocide, AFP reported.

However, the UN war crimes tribunal, which is based in Arusha, Tanzania, acquitted former health minister Casimir Bizimungu and former foreign affairs minister Jerome-Clement Bicamumpaka, citing a lack of evidence.

The Rwandan genocide began after the plane of the country's Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana, was shot down in 1994 and Hutus were incited to commit acts of ethnic violence against Tutsis. Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira was also killed in the plane crash.

All of the details of the double assassination have never come out and investigations continue to this day.

The tribunal was formed later in 1994 to try the alleged perpetrators of the genocide, in which about 800,000 to one million people, mainly Tutsis, were killed.

The Rwandan genocide lasted approximately 100 days and hence is called the “100 Days of Hell.”

The four ex-ministers, who denied the charges, were accused of calling for the massacre of Tutsis during several meetings they held across Rwanda and in public speeches, some of which were aired on radio.

Bizimungu was arrested in Kenya in February 1999, while the other three were all arrested in Cameroon in April 1999.


Maastricht bans cannabis coffee-shop tourists

Cannabis weighed out in coffee shop Cannabis is widely available in the coffee shops of Maastricht
A ban on some foreign tourists has come into force in the cannabis-selling coffee shops of the Dutch border city of Maastricht.
City authorities say the influx of tourists buying soft drugs is threatening public order and causing major traffic problems.
Coffee shop owners say the ban won't work and will hit the local economy.
However, the ban does not apply to visitors from Germany and Belgium who are the majority of foreign customers.
The move comes ahead of a proposed nationwide crackdown being discussed in the Dutch parliament.
The BBC's Anna Holligan says the ban is being seen as a test case that could be implemented in other Dutch towns and cities.
There are about 700 coffee shops in the Netherlands. The cultivation and sale of soft drugs through them is decriminalised although not legal.
An estimated 6,000 people visit Maastricht's coffee shops every day - most making the quick trip across the border from Belgium and Germany.
But from Saturday, anyone who doesn't hold a Dutch, Belgian or German passport will be told to leave.
Hi-tech security scanners have been set up to check passports and ID cards, and police will carry out random checks.
City authorities say drug tourists pose a threat to public order.
'Revenue lost' But critics of the policy say the ban contravenes EU policies of equality and the freedom of movement.
Marc Josemans, chairman of the Association of Official Coffee Shops Maastricht (VOCM), said the ban would do more harm than good.
"All these clients who are banned from the Dutch coffee shops... have to return to the illegal circuit in their own country, therefore it will become a bigger problem and cause more criminality in those countries," he told Reuters.
VOCM says visitors attracted by the coffee shops also spend an estimated 140m euros (£120m) elsewhere in the city every year.
Correspondents say the Dutch justice ministry wants coffee shops to operate like members' only clubs, serving only local residents.
The European Court of Justice ruled last December that Dutch authorities could bar foreigners from cannabis-selling coffee shops because they were combating drug tourism.

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Hundreds dead, 660,000 displaced by Pakistan flooding

From Nasir Habib, CNN
October 1, 2011 -- Updated 0159 GMT (0959 HKT)
Pakistani flood-affected people queue up at a relief camp in the flood-hit Badin district on September 29, 2011.
Pakistani flood-affected people queue up at a relief camp in the flood-hit Badin district on September 29, 2011.
  • 107 of the 434 killed in the flooding are children, the government says
  • The floods affect about 8.9 million people and destroyed at least 1.5 million homes
  • The U.N. has raised $19 million of the $357 million it's seeking to help in the crisis
  • The world body warns that humanitarian agencies are running out of aid
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The death toll continues to rise from devastating flooding in southeastern Pakistan, with authorities saying Friday that 107 children are among the 434 people killed.
Roughly 660,000 people are living in refugee camps in the wake of high waters that have wrought havoc for several weeks, Pakistan's national disaster authority said in a statement. This is fewer than the 700,000 reported by the same agency just over a week ago.
About 8.9 million people have been affected by the floods, which have destroyed 1.5 million homes in 37,000 villages in Sindh province alone, according to the statement.
This marks the second straight year that Pakistan has seen deadly flooding. In August 2010, more than 20 million people were displaced and 1,700 people killed.
The latest disaster has lasted longer than a month and caused an estimated $9.7 billion in damage to homes, roads and farms.
The United Nations warned Friday that humanitarian aid is running out in the hard-hit region.
This comes two weeks after the international organization and its partners launched an effort to raise $357 million to help those most affected -- of which only $19 million has been received, the U.N. said on its website.
Safe drinking water and emergency shelter materials could run out within weeks, while agencies on the ground have enough food for a month for the hundreds of thousands affected.
"It is tragic to see families displaced from the floods with no shelter and barely enough to survive on," said Fawad Hussein, a U.N. official focused on flood relief. "These families worry their children will go hungry, and without access to safe drinking water, they fear they will become sick from drinking contaminated water."

Iranian pastor faces death for rape, not apostasy - report

By Dan Merica, CNN
October 1, 2011 -- Updated 0129 GMT (0929 HKT)
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will executed for several charges of rape and extortion, not his original sentence of apostasy.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will executed for several charges of rape and extortion, not his original sentence of apostasy.
  • NEW: Iranian official calls Nadarkhani "rapist ... guilty of security-related crimes"
  • NEW: Official says Iran doesn't execute people because of their religion
  • Nadarkhani got death sentence for rape and extortion
  • He is the leader of a network of house churches in Iran
Washington (CNN) -- Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will be put to death for several charges of rape and extortion, charges that differ greatly from his original sentence of apostasy, Iran's semi-official Fars News agency reported Friday.
Gholomali Rezvani, the deputy governor of Gilan province, where Nadarkhani was tried and convicted, accused Western media of twisting the real story, referring to him as a "rapist." A previous report from the news agency claimed he had committed several violent crimes, including repeated rape and extortion.
"His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity," Rezvani told Fars. "He is guilty of security-related crimes."
In a translated Iranian Supreme Court brief from 2010, however, the charge of apostasy is the only charge leveled against Nadarkhani.
"Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32-years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19," reads the brief.
The brief was obtained by CNN from the American Center for Law and Justice and was translated from its original Farsi by the Confederation of Iranian Students in Washington.
It goes on to say that during the court proceeding, Nadarkhani denied the prophecy of Mohammad and the authority of Islam.
"He (Nadarkhani) has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim," states the brief. "During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging according to article 8 of Tahrir -- olvasileh."
Rezvani, the official from Gilan province, confirmed that his execution is "not imminent" nor is it final.
He is a Zionist and has committed security-related crimes.
Gholomali Rezvani
Mohammadali Dadkhah, the pastor's lawyer, said through a translator that even in light of the Fars News report, he does not believe Nadarkhani will be put to death.
"The case is still in progress," Dadkhah said. "There's a 95% that he won't get the death penalty. Yes, I still believe that."
Dadkhah spoke briefly of the trial proceedings, stating that he presented documents to the court that should be convincing, including documents from Shi'ite leaders that state the crime does not warrant the possible punishment.
"This is a legal process that should take its course, and it should stand, on its own merits. It should succeed," Dadkhah said.
Nadarkhani, the leader of a network of house churches in Iran, was first convicted of apostasy in November 2010, a charge he subsequently appealed all the way to the Iranian Supreme Court. After four days of an appeals trial that started Sunday at a lower court in Gilan Province, Nadarkhani refused to recant his beliefs.
That said, Rezvani -- echoing an earlier report from Fars -- insisted that "Nadarkhani's crime and his death sentence have nothing to do with his beliefs.
"No one is executed in Iran for their choice of religion," he added. "He is a Zionist and has committed security-related crimes."
The possible execution of Nadarkhani, based on an assumption it is tied to his Christian belief, has elicited responses from the highest levels of the United States government, too.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement Friday that said the United States stands with "all Iranians against the Iranian government's hypocritical statements and actions."
The White House released a statement on Thursday, stating that Nadarkhani "has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for people."
"That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency and breaches Iran's own international obligations," reads the statement.
Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, says a trial for apostasy in Iran is rare. According to him, this is the first apostasy trial since 1990.
Nadarkhani's trial and his possible execution have engaged American Christians, as well. Todd Nettleton, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian organization that attempts to assist with persecuted and minority churches around the world, called the news of the new charges proof that international attention on the issue is working.
"They are feeling the attention, they are feeling the weight of the eyes of the world watching how they are treating this man," Nettleton said. "I am dumbfounded, though, that at this stage in the game, this is what they would trot out."
Voice of the Martyrs manages a Facebook page that has brought a lot of attention to Nadarkhani's trial. With comments updated by the minute, thousand of people have taken to Facebook to spread the word about the pastor.
In light of this news, Nettleton said the Facebook page would continue to be active.
"I think our first response will be prayer for pastor Youcef," Nettleton said. "Prayer that justice will be done and that he will remain faithful no matter that the days ahead may bring for him."

Awlaki's death hits al-Qaeda's social media strategy

Anwar al-Awlaki Awlaki saw himself as a vanguard figure among English-speaking Muslims in the West
Anwar al-Awlaki was adept at using social media to export al-Qaeda ideology to the West. His success at inspiring acts of violence shows the US campaign against terrorism is a battle of ideas that cannot be won by drones alone.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current head of al-Qaeda, once remarked: "We are in a media battle for hearts and minds." It was a prescient comment.
The death of al-Awlaki, a senior al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, marks one of the most significant blows yet to al-Qaeda's global media campaign.
Awlaki was the quintessential modern-day terrorist, mixing an adroit use of social media with operational support for violence against the West.
He was "the magic bullet," noted Johari Abdul-Malik, a spokesman for Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church in the US state of Virginia, where Awlaki once served as an imam. "He had everything all in a box."
Digital natural The US-born Awlaki indeed seemed to have it all.
His charismatic, soft-spoken style and stirring lectures earned him a growing corps of loyal internet followers across the globe.
In his lectures, he had a disarming aura, with an easy smile and a soothing, eloquent voice. Perhaps more importantly, he understood the intricacies of the internet and used it to broadcast his messages overseas.
Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center, Falls Church, Virginia (2009) 
Awlaki served as an imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia near Washington
His sermons were available on YouTube and other websites, and CDs of his speeches were sold in Islamic bookstores around the world.
Awlaki operated his own blog and was active on several social networking sites, and his supporters set up pages on Facebook and MySpace. Awlaki envisioned himself as a vanguard among English-speaking Muslims, and he was more successful in that role than any other al-Qaeda figure.
His moral support for terrorism made his command of social media and his appeal to an international group of internet followers dangerous.
Some of Awlaki's online English lectures were non-violent and centred on traditional religious themes. But others strongly supported violence. In his sermon 44 Ways to Support Jihad, for example, Awlaki encouraged his followers to conduct suicide operations against the West and to sponsor the families of suicide bombers.
Awlaki also supported terrorist operations from his base in Yemen. He was pivotal, for example, in providing strategic and operational guidance to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused of trying to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day in 2009 with a bomb in his underwear.
Propaganda and violence In multiple email exchanges, he also encouraged a US Army psychiatrist, Maj Nidal Malik Hasan, to kill US soldiers, and in November 2009, Maj Hasan was accused of gunning down 13 people and wounded 43 others at Fort Hood, Texas.
Indeed, it was Awlaki's mixture of propaganda and violence that made him so threatening.
Facebook logo 
Awlaki's supporters established pages on Facebook and other social networking sites
"The internet has become a great medium for spreading the call of jihad and following the news of the mujahideen," Awlaki once wrote.
He encouraged supporters to become "internet mujahideen" by establishing discussion forums, sending out email blasts, posting or emailing jihadi literature and news, and setting up websites to distribute information.
Still, Awlaki's death will not be the end of al-Qaeda or its ideology.
The group's support network, though weakened, persists in Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.
Though Awlaki will be difficult to replace - since he effectively coupled both propaganda and operations - al-Qaeda will continue to plan attacks overseas against Western targets.
And despite Awlaki's record of success in inspiring acts of violence against the West, al-Qaeda's popularity has been weakened in parts of the Muslim world, according to Pew Research Center data.
Only 2% of Muslims in Lebanon and 5% in Turkey express favourable views of al-Qaeda. In Jordan, 15% have a positive opinion of al-Qaeda. The trend is unmistakable: al-Qaeda - and its ideology - have lost support.
Plummeting local support In many ways, the loss of local support for al-Qaeda set the stage for Awlaki's demise.

Start Quote

The struggle against al-Qaeda will remain, in part, a battle of ideas”
Local Yemenis had become increasingly willing to provide information on Awlaki's movements in Yemen to Yemeni and US officials, unhappy that he was involved in terrorist plots. And in Pakistan, where US special forces in May killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, US intelligence efforts have been facilitated by plummeting local support for al-Qaeda.
The struggle against al-Qaeda will remain, in part, a battle of ideas.
Law enforcement, intelligence, and military efforts play an important role. But as Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda leader, acknowledged, the struggle will ultimately come down to winning hearts and minds.
Al-Qaeda and individuals like Awlaki may represent a fringe group of extremists, but their message must be more effectively countered. That is something drone strikes cannot do.
Seth G. Jones is a senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation and author of the forthcoming book Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa'ida since 9/11 (WW Norton).

'Flying carpet' of conductive plastic takes flight

The sheet is lifted by the air packets, and propelled forwards
A miniature magic carpet made of plastic has taken flight in a laboratory at Princeton University.
The 10cm (4in) sheet of smart transparency is driven by "ripple power"; waves of electrical current driving thin pockets of air from front to rear underneath.
The prototype, described in Applied Physics Letters, moves at speeds of about a centimetre per second.
Improvements to the design could raise that to as much as a metre per second.
The device's creator, graduate student Noah Jafferis, says he was inspired by a mathematical paper he read shortly after starting his PhD studies at Princeton.
He abandoned what would have been a fashionable project printing electronic circuits with nano-inks for one that seemed to have more in common with 1001 Nights than 21st-Century engineering.
Prof James Sturm, who leads Mr Jafferis' research group, conceded that at times the project seemed foolhardy.
"What was difficult was controlling the precise behaviour of the sheet as it deformed at high frequencies," he told the BBC.
"Without the ability to predict the exact way it would flex, we couldn't feed in the right electrical currents to get the propulsion to work properly."
What followed was a two year digression attaching sensors to every part of the material so as to fine-tune its performance through a series of complex feedbacks.
But once that was mastered, the waveform of the undulating matched that prescribed by the theory, and the wafting motions gave life to the tiny carpet.
In the paper describing the design, Mr Jafferis and his co-authors are careful to keep the word "flying" in inverted commas, because the resulting machine has more in common with a hovercraft than an aeroplane.
"It has to keep close to the ground," Mr Jafferis explained to the BBC's Science in Action, "because the air is then trapped between the sheet and the ground. As the waves move along the sheet it basically pumps the air out the back." That is the source of the thrust.
Ray hope Harvard University's Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, who wrote the 2007 paper in Physical Review Letters that inspired the whole project, expressed a mixture of surprise and delight at the Princeton team's success.
Manta ray  
The propulsion is not completely unlike that of skates and rays
"Noah has gone beyond our simple theory and actually built a device that works," he told the BBC "And what's more, it behaves, at least qualitatively, as we had predicted."
Mr Jafferis points out that the prototype is limited because tiny conducting threads anchor it to heavy batteries, so it's free to move only a few centimetres. But he is already working on a solar-powered upgrade that could freely fly over large distances.
The advantage of this kind of propulsion, he argues, is that unlike jets, propellers and hovercraft, there are no moving components like cogs and gears that rub against each other.
"The ideal use would be some kind of dusty, grimy environment where moving parts would get gummed up and stop," he explained.
That said, he laughingly admits that with the existing materials, a flying carpet powerful enough to carry a person would need a wingspan of 50 metres - not the best vehicle to take on the streets just yet.
On the other hand, preliminary calculations suggest that there is enough atmosphere on the planet Mars to send floating rovers scudding over its dusty surface.
Meanwhile, Prof Mahadevan looks forward to sophisticated improvements in the near future, suggesting the approach could progress to "mimicking the beautiful two-dimensional undulations of the skate or manta ray".
You can listen to Noah Jafferis describe his flying carpet on the BBC World Service programme Science in Action.

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Karzai abandons peace talks with the Taliban

President Karzai meets Pakistan PM Gilani 
President Karzai says peace can only be achieved by talks with Pakistan
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said his government will no longer hold peace talks with the Taliban.
He said the killing of Burhanuddin Rabbani had convinced him to focus on dialogue with Pakistan.
Former Afghan President Rabbani was negotiating with the Taliban but was killed by a suicide bomber purporting to be a Taliban peace emissary.
US President Barack Obama has renewed calls for Pakistani action against militants of the Haqqani network.
Mr Karzai, speaking to a group of religious leaders, said there were no partners for dialogue among the Taliban. It was not possible to find the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, he added.
"Where is he? We cannot find the Taliban Council. Where is it?" he said.
"A messenger comes disguised as a Taliban Council member and kills, and they neither confirm nor reject it. Therefore, we cannot talk to anyone but to Pakistan," Mr Karzai told the meeting.
"Who is the other side in the peace process? I do not have any other answer but to say Pakistan is the other side in the peace talks with us."
A statement by members of the nationwide council of religious scholars praised Rabbani's efforts to bring peace to the country, and condemned his killing in the strongest terms.
'Terrorist hot bed' Last week, the US military accused Pakistan's spy agency of helping the Haqqani militant network in a recent attack on Kabul.
Pakistan's foreign minister responded by warning that the US could lose Pakistan as an ally if it continued to publicly accuse Islamabad of supporting militants.
Late on Friday, President Barack Obama renewed calls for Pakistan to take action against the group.
"My attitude is, whether there is active engagement with Haqqani on the part of the Pakistanis or rather just passively allowing them to operate with impunity in some of these border regions, they've got to take care of this problem," said Mr Obama.
Pakistan has long denied supporting the Haqqani group, but BBC correspondents say it has a decades-old policy of pursuing foreign policy objectives through alliances with militants.
Although Islamabad denies the network has safe havens inside Pakistan, the country's former national security adviser told the BBC that it was operating in North Waziristan, in Pakistan's restive tribal belt.
"Today North Waziristan is a hot bed," said Retired Maj Gen Mahmoud Durani.
"It's not just Haqqanis. Everybody who is anybody in the terrorist field is there. Although there is military (there)... I think they have a fair amount of freedom of action."
He said the army was too overstretched to take on the Haqqani group.
The BBC's Orla Guerin says that, privately, officials admit that the group is not a target for Pakistan because its members don't kill and maim inside the country.
US officials say they are close to deciding whether to label the group as a foreign terrorist organisation, and the Treasury Department on Thursday announced new sanctions on five individuals it said were linked to "the most dangerous terrorist organisations operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan".

Sandblasted jeans: Should we give up distressed denim?

Workers at a sandblasting factory in Bangladesh in March 2010. Photo by Allison Joyce.
Jeans with a distressed, already-worn look have been popular since the 1990s, but one way the effect is achieved is by blasting them with sand - and this can give factory workers an incurable lung disease. So should we stop buying them?
"I have difficulty breathing... When I return from work I feel so tired. My eyes are in pain from all the dust," says an 18-year-old worker at a garment factory in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is home to more than 4,000 clothes-making factories and many of the world's leading jeans companies use factories based there.
The worker, who agreed to speak anonymously to the BBC World Service, says he works 11 hours a day in the choking atmosphere, to earn a salary of $70 a month.
"I know the effects this is having on my health, but I continue to do it because I need to feed myself and my family," he says.

Start Quote

It hasn't become a big scandal in the way it should have done”
Sam Maher Clean Clothes Campaign
"I am a poor man, so I do this to survive."
Manual sandblasting of jeans requires just a hose, an air compressor and sand - workers literally blast the jeans with sand, to give them a worn look and to soften the denim.
Silicosis is caused when small particles of silica dust from the sand embed themselves within the lungs.
It causes shortness of breath, coughing, weakness and weight loss. It's incurable - and in its acute form, fatal.
Scraping Last year, Levi Strauss & Co and H&M publicly announced a ban on sandblasting of their denim.
After lobbying from campaign groups, many other companies have followed suit, saying they have either banned sandblasting from their supply chains, or are in the process of doing so.
But this is not always easily done.

Brands that have banned sand

Sandblasting of a pair of jeans at a factory in Bangladesh in March 2010. Photo by Allison Joyce
  • Armani, Benetton, Bestseller, Burberry, C&A, Carrera Jeans, Charles Voegele, Esprit, Gucci, H&M, Levi Strauss & Co, New Yorker, Mango, Metro, New Look, Pepe Jeans, Replay, The Just group, Versace
  • Some companies say sandblasting does not occur in their supply chain, but have not publicly banned it
  • Others say they will soon stop ordering sandblasted jeans
Companies in the garment industry tend not to own the factories that make their clothes, and work is often sub-contracted out from big factories to smaller, less well-regulated ones.
"We are still in the very early stages of the ban," says Sam Maher, co-author of a report on sandblasting by the international pressure group, the Clean Clothes Campaign.
"There is still the worry that it is more of a paper commitment."
"It's such a poorly-controlled industry. Companies need to have a much stronger grip on their supply chain than we believe they do."
There are other ways of producing distressed jeans - using lasers, or scraping by hand or machine, for example - which result in a similar effect. So consumers have no way of knowing whether they are buying jeans that have made a worker ill on the other side of the world.
Turkish ban The sandblasting backlash began in Turkey, one of the world's biggest exporters of jeans.
In 2004, a doctor in a village in the Bingol region in the east of the country became suspicious, after conducting medical tests on a group of young men about to start military service.
Dozens of them were suffering from silicosis and all had been working in denim sandblasting factories in Istanbul.

Start Quote

I believe that distressed denim will be seen as one of the great madnesses of this generation”
Orsola de Castro Creative Director, From Somewhere
It was the first time that the illness - which has a long history among workers in construction and mining - had been found within the garment industry.
To date, 46 garment workers have died from silicosis in Turkey, and there are 1,200 registered cases - though doctors suspect the true number of people affected there is much higher.
Five years after the discoveries in Bingol, the Turkish government banned sandblasting. But in other countries the issue has received scant attention.
"It hasn't become a big scandal in the way it should have done," says Sam Maher.
The Clean Clothes Campaign believes that sandblasting just moved from Turkey to other countries - including Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, and Egypt.
Spot checks It is hard for journalists to gain access to factories making jeans in Bangladesh, but one factory owner did agree to show the BBC around.
"One hundred per cent of our buyers are outside the country. We are dealing with world renowned buyers," says Mohammad Jahangir Alam, Executive Director of Express Washing and Dyeing Limited, just outside the capital Dhaka.

Silicosis - the facts

X-ray showing the lungs of a patient with silicosis
  • One of the most common occupational diseases, traditionally found in sandblasting workers in construction and mining
  • There is no cure for silicosis. In less severe cases, treatment helps with associated symptoms
  • Silicosis traditionally takes many years to develop, but some workers in Turkey contracted silicosis in months
  • In 2009 the Turkish government banned sandblasting of jeans, and in 2011 it agreed to pay disability allowances to those unable to work as a result of silicosis
  • Sandblasting is permitted within the EU and the US, but the amount of silicia must be below 1% in the EU and below 0.5% in the US
His factory has some sandblasting machines which he is happy to show and demonstrate - but he insists they are no longer in use.
"We have stopped sandblasting totally... The sandblasting unit is absolutely closed, it is under lock and key - this section is not being used nowadays."
"Everything is visible, nothing is secret," he says.
"Buyers are employing a lot of manpower for auditing this sort of thing... there are evaluations without notice. Sometimes in the evenings, buyers suddenly come."
The Clean Clothes Campaign wants the European Union to ban the import of any clothes produced using the sandblasting technique, and for the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization to add sandblasting in the garment industry to their lists of hazardous occupations.
They also argue that companies should provide medical help for any workers who may have contracted silicosis.
"It is not really enough to say 'From now on, we won't do it,'" says Sam Maher. "They also need to take responsibility for those workers that have already been made ill... without treatment, they are going to suffer a fairly horrific death."
No-one knows how many people around the world could have contracted silicosis as a result of making distressed jeans.
Because there is no history of it within the garment industry, doctors are unlikely to diagnose it among workers in that sector. Campaigners say many cases are likely to have been mistaken for tuberculosis. The symptoms are similar - indeed it is common for a person to suffer from both at the same time.
Levi Strauss & Co told the BBC it was not aware of a single case of silicosis among any worker within its supply chain, and said that before the ban come into place, work was done according to the strictest safety standards.
Workers at a factory in Bangladesh distressing jeans by hand  
Distressing jeans by hand is a safer method than sandblasting
Orsola de Castro, Founder and Creative Director of the ethical fashion label From Somewhere, argues that consumers also have a role to play.
"Clothes don't magically come from trees," she says. "There is a supply chain behind it, and there are real human beings behind our jeans."
One way of cracking down would be to introduce a labelling system to identify denim that has not been sandblasted - though this would take time to implement.
Much simpler would be for consumers to stop buying distressed jeans, says Orsola de Castro.
"I believe that distressed denim will be seen as one of the great madnesses of this generation... a sign of fast fashion at its most ridiculous."
"I don't think it can be a badge of pride, I think it needs to be a badge of shame."