Christmas AmnestyDecember 24, 2013
Russian President Vladimir Putin has pardoned 2,000 people who can now spend Christmas with their families. Among the freed are Greenpeace activists (arctic 30), two members of the punk band Pussy Riot, and oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Khodorkovsky was hastily flown in a private jet to Berlin to be paraded in the Berlin Wall Museum in front of an enthusiastic crowd of Western journalists, eager to extract disparaging statements about Putin and Russia. They didn’t succeed, as Khodorkovsky was tight-lipped, but they nevertheless had a field day, using dutifully the cue for slandering and denouncing the evil Russian system and Putin.
Khodorkovsky, once number 16 on Forbes list of billionaires, was in 2003 arrested and subsequently found guilty of fraud, tax salvation, embezzlement, and money laundering. The European Court of Human Rights ruled, that the trial was not politically motivated and that the charges against him were grounded in reasonable suspicion.
The Pussy Rioters, convicted for hooliganism, after they had invaded the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow to stage an impromptu performance on the soleas, were not at all thankful for their release and instantly denounced their pardon as publicity stunt and hoax. Their musical talents may be questionable, but with the help of US NGO NED (National Endowment for Democracy), they will for sure find a stage and an appreciative audience for further activities.
The Greenpeace activists expressed relief but also declared, that: “There is no amnesty for the Arctic.”
Will other world leaders follow Putin’s example?
Rwanda’s Supreme Court just sentenced opposition leader Victoire Ingabire to 15 years in jail. Ingabire is a Hutu and a leading critic of President Paul Kagame, she joins the likes of Deo Mushayidi, Bernard Ntaganda, and Dr. Theoneste Niyitegeka, who are also languishing in prison for political reasons.
Victoire Ingabire was not involved in the Rwandan 1994 genocide, President Paul Kagame was,
War crimes investigator Michael Hourigan, who died a few days ago, found out, that Kagame ordered the assassinations of Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira, thereby igniting the genocide. His report was suppressed by the UN and the USA (http://www.whale.to/c/hourigan_report.html)
Kagame started in 1996 the Tutsi revenge genocide, invading Zaire (now DRC) to break up refugee camps and massacre Hutu militants and civilians alike. He supported various insurgencies and militias in Congo, first toppling Mobutu and installing Kabila, then in 1998 starting a war against Kabila, which lasted till 2003. His latest stunt was the M23 rebellion, which Congo could defeat with the help of UN troops.
Paul Kagame should have long ago been sent to Den Hague to stand trial at the International Criminal Court and join Charles Taylor in a neighboring prison cell. Kagame’s war crimes let Taylor’s involvement in Sierra Leone seem minor and forgivable in comparison, his record trumps that of Taylor at least by one magnitude. But he still is the darling of the West because he colludes with the big corporations to exploit the mineral wealth of the eastern Congo. As long as he helps deliver the blood diamonds and blood minerals for (i)gadgets and other consumer toys the worlds self-appointed policemen (USA, UK, France, NATO) will not take action.
A 2001 UN Report about the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC alleged, that Kagame and Ugandan President Museveni, were “…becoming the godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo“. The report claimed that the Rwandan Ministry of Defense contained a “Congo Desk” dedicated to collecting taxes from companies licensed to mine minerals around Kisangani, and that substantial quantities of coltan and diamonds passed through Kigali before being resold on the international market by staff on the Congo Desk. International NGO Global Witness recently conducted field studies and concluded that minerals from North and South Kivu are exported illegally to Rwanda and then marketed as Rwandan.
Paul Kagame will not pardon Victoire Ingabire, nor will he pardon any other political opponent. Will US President Barrack Obama pardon anybody? There would be many inmates worthy of clemency.
US prisons house more than 2.4 million persons, more than one out of every 100 US-American adults is behind bars. The USA has the worldwide highest incarceration rate, with 4.6 percent of the world population, but a quarter of the worlds prisoners. African-Americans make up 40 percent of the prisoners, most of them are convicted on drug charges and other non-violent offenses.
Quite a number of US inmates would be considered as political prisoners, if their prison cells were located in a non-Western country. To name just a few:
Attorney Lynne Stewart (who is suffering from breast cancer), convicted of passing messages from her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.
Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, whose offense was to expose US warcrimes in Iraq/Afghanistan and leak diplomatic cables which documented, how the USA applies pressure on adversaries and allies alike.
Jeremy Hammond and Barrett Brown, arrested for hacking Stratfor.
Brent Betterly, Jared Chase, Brian Church, Sebastian Senakiewicz, Mark Neiweem, arrested before the NATO summit in 2012.
Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Greg Boertje-Obed, convicted of breaking into a nuclear weapons facility (Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge).
Eric McDavid and Marie Mason, jailed for vandalizing a GMO office and destroying logging equipment.
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of assaulting her interrogators in Afghanistan.
Dr. Rafil Dhafir, an Iraqi oncologist concerned about the effects of depleted uranium, jailed for breaking the sanctions against Iraq.
Abdelhaleem Ashqar, a Palestinian activist, jailed for his refusal to testify against other Palestinian activists.
Shukri Abu-Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammad El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh, and Mufid Abdulqader, who were collecting money for Palestinian charities and have been convicted of aiding Hamas.
Amina Ali and Hawo Hassan, who had collected clothing for Somalia, imprisoned for aiding al-Shabab.
The Cuban 5, charged for monitoring anti-Cuban terrorists in Miami.
Ricardo Palmera, convicted of holding three captured CIA contractors as prisoner in Colombia.
Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican community activist, imprisoned for “seditious conspiracy.”
Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist, sentenced to life on the basis of fabricated as well as suppressed evidence.
Rev. Joy Powell, an Afro-American activist, convicted of burglary and assault without any evidence or eyewitnesses.
Mumia Abu Jamal, sentenced to death in an unfair trial on the basis of questionable evidence.
Russell Maroon Shoats, Jalil Muntaqim, Mutulu Shakur, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, Veronza Bowers, Eddie Conway, Ed Poindexter, David Rice, Herman Bell, Romaine Fitzgerald, Robert Seth Hayes, Kamau Sadiki, Sekou Odinga, and other members of the Black Panther movement.
President Obama could also fulfill his promise to close Guantanamo, he could close the prison at Bagram Airbase, the black sites in Eastern Europe and Asia, the secret prisons on US Navy warship. Obama could end the praxis of “enhanced interrogation” (torture), he could end the indefinite detention and transfer all inmates to US facilities to give them a fair trial.
He will not do it, Obama is not Putin.