A recently issued forensic report has confirmed that three NCOs were interrogated while under the influence of drugs and hypnosis last year after being detained on suspicion of leaking classified information.
Family members mourn the death of Cevdet Kılıçlar, a journalist who was killed during the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. DHA photo
Several of the victims of the Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla were shot in the head from above, presumably from a helicopter, according to the forensics report released Monday by a human rights group.
Some of the bodies were found to have wounds consistent with a bullet entering through the head from a high angle, the report said, adding that automatic or semi-automatic weapons were likely used to kill the nine people who died onboard the Mavi Marmara.
Since all the corpses had been washed before being examined by authorities, no gunpowder traces were found on the bodies, making it impossible to reach a definite conclusion about the range from which they were shot. High amounts of ethanol and methanol were detected on the corpses, however, due to what was thought to be an attempt to keep them from smelling. The wet and dirty clothes the victims were wearing made it difficult to determine whether they had been clothed in these garments at the time of their death.
Eight Turks and one U.S. citizen of Turkish descent were killed May 31 aboard the Mavi Marmara, which was part of a flotilla of ships attempting to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip despite Israel’s blockade of the area. The report released by the Istanbul-based Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People, or Mazlum-Der, described the deaths of some of the victims.
Furkan Doğan, 19, was shot from close range by five bullets, while Fahri Yıldız died as a result of internal bleeding. Cengiz Akyüz was shot in the forehead and died as a result of a skull fracture. One bullet entered Çetin Topçuoğlu’s skull and exited from the back of his neck, while another bullet that hit him in the right shoulder destroyed his lungs.
According to the report released by Mazlum-Der, Israeli soldiers opened a file and took DNA samples from the nine bodies.
The Mavi Marmara set out from the Turkish Mediterranean city of Antalya on May 28 as part of a flotilla of ships carrying more than 500 people from different countries. Israeli soldiers raided the ship when it was 65 kilometers off the Gaza coast, causing the nine deaths and striking a serious blow to Turkish-Israeli relations.
The House Democrat who oversees funding for Afghanistan’s redevelopment and reconstruction said on Monday that she is stripping money from her foreign aid bill in reaction to pervasive corruption. Dave Obey, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, supports the move made by subcommittee chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), according to an Obey spokesman.
Lowey cited pervasive corruption in Afghanistan as the cause for her decision to pull the funding from the appropriations bill working its way through her State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.
“I do not intend to appropriate one more dime for assistance to Afghanistan until I have confidence that U.S. taxpayer money is not being abused to line the pockets of corrupt Afghan government officials, drug lords and terrorists,” said Lowey.
A Lowey spokesman said the restrictions would not apply to direct humanitarian assistance for projects such as refugee camps, but would limit funds for USAID and the State Department, which funnel money to reconstruction efforts — money that is often siphoned many times over.
The request that Lowey is rejecting amounts to $3.9 billion for the 2011 fiscal year.
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she recently traveled to Afghanistan and found the corruption staggering. “I was just there for Mother’s Day, in Afghanistan, that weekend, and traveled into the country even more remotely than Kandahar,” Pelosi said in an interview in her office. “And the corruption issue, it’s problematic. And you know what? A lot of it is our money.”
“This is about systemic, huge money,” she said.
The chairman of the Senate subcommittee who oversees the same funding stream in the upper chamber is war opponent Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), who was chairing Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing and couldn’t be reached.
Pelosi said that she wasn’t sure if there are enough votes in the House to approve funding for the war operations, either.
“I don’t know how many votes there are in the caucus, even condition-based, for the war, hands down. I just don’t. We’ll see what the shape of it is the day of the vote,” she said, but added that she believes President Obama’s surge should be given time to work until the planned drawdown in 2011. “The thing is, is this president has to give his plan a chance until next year, when we have to withdraw them,” she said.
A Lowey spokesman said that the chairwoman’s move was a response to a Wall Street Journalreport about $3 billion in cash being openly flown out of Kabul International Airport over the past three years and a Washington Post item about top aides to President Hamid Karzai repeatedly derailing corruption probes.
“The alleged shipment of billions in donor funds out of Afghanistan and allegations of Afghan government insiders impeding corruption investigations are outrageous,” said Lowey. “Furthermore, the government of Afghanistan must demonstrate that corruption is being aggressively investigated and prosecuted.”
UPDATE: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) took to the House floor Monday to make the case that the corruption is endemic to the occupation and that the only way to limit it is to leave Afghanistan.
At the height of the slaughter in Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan, Federal Drug Control Service chief Viktor Ivanov’s only comment was that a Russian military base may be established in the city to add to the one already in Kant, just outside Bishkek. Ivanov’s suggestion underscores what journalist Alexander Golts calls Russia’s “imitation empire.”
The Kyrgyz are slaughtering Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan. If Russia is an empire — with the white man’s burden and all that jazz — it must send troops. If it is not an empire, then the poor Kyrgyz and Uzbeks can sort out their own problems.
To make matters worse, Osh is a hotbed of fundamentalism. Many of the radical Islamic fundamentalists who Uzbek President Islam Karimov kicked out of Uzbekistan now live in Osh. This is why Uzbekistan is in no hurry to get involved and even remains reluctant to accept refugees, fearing that the fundamentalists will sneak in along with the refugees.
What could Ivanov’s military base possibly accomplish in Osh? Help traffic heroin? Rent military armored personnel carriers to violent gangs to help them carry out pogroms?
When Askar Akayev was deposed as Kyrgyz president in 2005, Kurmanbek Bakiyev ran to Moscow. The Kremlin bet on Bakiyev since he was the weaker figure in Kyrgyz politics at the time. They could have instead supported Bakiyev’s stronger contender, Felix Kulov, but the Kremlin got scared and chose the weaker guy. What Russia and Kyrgyzstan got in the end was a drug dealer and a con artist.
The problem is that Kyrgyzstan is only the tip of the iceberg. Ever since the Russians abandoned Kyrgyzstan, all of Central Asia is deteriorating into something akin to what equatorial Africa turned into after the British left.
Kyrgyzstan is the first to go down the drain because it was created as a phantom state by Stalin. It was a land of valleys and mountains and was divided into clans and families along geographical barriers. The Ferghana Valley in the south — the best piece of real estate in the country — was divided between Uzbeks, Tajiks and the Kyrgyz in a way that made the current conflict inevitable.
Kyrgyzstan is already a failed state, but other Central Asian nations are catching up. There is Turkmenistan, which was home to Saparmurat Niyazov — or Turkmenbashi (“the leader of all Turkmen”) — the first post-Soviet president who built himself a gold statue that used to revolve 360 degrees every 24 hours so that it always faced the sun.
It seems that Niyazov’s personal physician, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, and the country’s chief of security conspired to unseat Turkmenbashi, but Niyazov conveniently died. The physician proceeded to become the new leader and sent the chief of security to prison.
In addition, there is Uzbekistan, a mix of stiff Communist has-beens and holdovers from Central Asian feudalism. The Turkmen scenario can easily be repeated in Uzbekistan — and Uzbekistan is soaked in Islamic fundamentalism like a rag in gasoline.
If Uzbekistan does flare up, we will see real chaos in the region. Fundamentalism will spread like wildfire along Central Asia’s underbelly. Once this happens, what will Russia do? Of course, it could tell everyone about how badly the Americans screwed up in Iraq. But before Russia does this, perhaps it should remember how far Iraq is located from the United States and how close Central Asia is to Russia.
By Ainagul Abdrakhmanova, Isomiddin Ahmedjanov – Central Asia
RCA Issue 620,
29 Jun 10
It is now commonly accepted that the recent ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan was orchestrated by forces seeking to ignite tensions between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities. What remains unclear is who those forces were, and why they planned and organised the worst killings Kyrgyzstan has seen in two decades.
Possible culprits as paymasters and participants include local gangsters, Kyrgyz or Uzbek nationalists, Islamic militants, mercenaries, and diehard supporters of Kurmanbek Bakiev, ousted from presidential office in April.
In a sensational announcement on June 24, Kyrgyzstan’s State Service for National Security, GSNB, said it had intelligence that a combination of these groups was involved. Bakiev family members had engaged guerrillas from the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, IMU, to create trouble, and ethnic Uzbek community leaders in southern Kyrgyzstan also played a part, the security agency said.
But while anecdotal accounts have been produced to support the various versions of events, each raises as many questions as it answers, and there is little hard evidence behind all the allegations.
As armed men roamed the streets of Osh and Jalalabad for several days following June 11, there were widespread killings and an estimated 400,000 fled, the majority of them ethnic Uzbeks. The Kyrgyz health ministry says around 290 people were killed.
Many eyewitnesses, victims and experts are certain there is a lot more to the violence than a spontaneous explosion of ethnic rivalries that had been simmering under the surface.
“Everything that has happened in the south was political provocation,” said political analyst Marat Kazakpaev. “Of course there’s no denying there were some tensions between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, but not to the degree where they’d starting killing one another.” (Our story Addressing Roots of Conflict in Kyrgyzstan explores the underlying problems that created mistrust between the two communities.)
As Tashpulat, a local Uzbek man put it, “You need a lot of money and influence to get Kyrgyz and Uzbek in Osh to start killing each other.”
FOOTSOLDIERS SEEMED ORGANISED
Witnesses say those visible on the streets – armed men on foot, in vehicles, and manning impromptu checkpoints – showed a degree of organisation that indicated they were not an uncontrolled mob. The men were commonly said to be from outside town, though this description varied between rural Kyrgyz and foreign nationals.
One Osh resident, who refused to give his name, said he saw carloads of masked men driving through the area where he lives and calling for Kyrgyz to be killed. Similar vehicles came through later, and this time their occupants were calling for attacks on Uzbeks. “I am sure this was deliberate provocation,” he concluded.
IWPR editor Inga Sikorskaya was in Osh during the worst of the violence, and saw many signs of careful planning and organisation. Armed men on the street received deliveries of food, while those in vehicles were heading off to specific areas to take part in what looked like a coordinated schedule of attacks.
“This was organised very carefully. Pre-arranged local incidents took place in one district, then another,” she said in an eyewitness account.
Describing the men involved, she said. “They couldn’t have been ordinary people who had only just taken up arms. They fired like professionals. It looked like these guys knew exactly what they were doing, and that someone was directing them. Many were constantly on their mobile phones, then getting into their cars and going off.”
Another disconcerting factor was that everyone Sikorskaya spoke to in preceding days was already aware there was going to be serious trouble in the city.
“Everyone knew about it, everyone was expecting it, but it seems no one tried to stop it,” she said.
Sharobiddin, a businessman in Osh, agreed that the violence looked staged.
“As a former soldier, I know that major operations require a lot of planning time,” he said. “Someone had been planning these murders and riots for a long time.”
Kubatbek Baibolov, appointed security commander for Jalalabad region, told IWPR that at least 30 individuals suspected of inciting the violence had been arrested.
“There were mercenaries, and there were paid local provocateurs who were paid on both the Kyrgyz and the Uzbek sides,” he said.
The United Nations’ human rights body was swift to issue a statement saying the unrest looked planned and coordinated.
“We have strong indications that this event was not a spontaneous inter-ethnic clash, that it was to some degree orchestrated, targeted and well planned,” said Rupert Colville spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on June 15, “The incident began with five simultaneous attacks in Osh involving men wearing balaclavas and carrying guns. It looked like they were seeking to provoke a reaction. For example, one of these attacks was on a gym which was known to be the haunt of a criminal gang… targeting that gym was likely to provoke a reaction.”
FROM KYRGYZ POLITICIANS TO UZBEK ISLAMISTS
If the footsoldiers were organised, the big question is who directed them.
One widely-held theory blames associates of ex-president Bakiev for stirring up the unrest. Since coming to power in April, Kyrgyzstan’s interim leadership has faced a series of security challenges, and in each case has detected the hand of Bakiev’s group.
There some logic to such allegations – the sudden removal from power of the ruling elite, as local as well as national level, undoubtedly created a lot of resentment, as the loss of political power would cut off access to economic resources as well. The ousted leadership would thus have many reasons to try to make a comeback by undermining the country’s new leaders.
However, the Kyrgyz security service has gone much further than that, alleging that members of the Bakiev family hired Islamic militants abroad to stir up violence in southern Kyrgyzstan.
In the June 24 statement , GSNB chief Keneshbek Dushebaev said the former president’s son Maxim Bakiev met IMU representatives in Dubai in April. Two Bakiev family members then concluded a final deal at a gathering in May of the IMU, their Taleban allies, and remnants of the guerrillas that fought in Tajikistan’s 1992-97 civil war. The Bakiev family agreed to pay the IMU 30 million US dollars to act as mercenaries, he said.
The IMU emerged from Islamists active in the Uzbek city of Namangan in the early Nineties; they shifted to Tajikistan and later Afghanistan and mounted raids into Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in 1999 and 2000.
Dushebaev’s statement then said 15 trained insurgents were dispatched to southern Kyrgyzstan in May, but these were not from the IMU but a distinct splinter group, the Islamic Jihad Union. It is not clear whether this is what the alleged 30 million dollar payment was for.
Analysts in Kyrgyzstan point out that the statement begs a number of questions.
Small groups of armed Islamic radicals have been a recurring problem in Central Asia in recent years, and the IMU was at one point capable of concerted attacks in the region. But since the group’s stated agenda is to do away with all secular governments, it is not clear why it would back one elite group against another. Nor, for that matter, is it clear why the Bakievs would invite in a force whose ultimate aim is to eliminate elite establishment figures like them.
Finally, despite the resurgence of Islamic sentiment in southern Kyrgyzstan, IWPR has not come across any evidence of an overtly religious motive to the clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan – for example, men employing the dress and rhetoric of Islamic militants. The IMU itself, while mainly Uzbek in origin, does not express hostility to other Muslim ethnic groups.
Such discrepancies lead experts like Kadyr Malikov, head of the Religion, Law and Politics Centre in Bishkek, to question the new official version of events.
“I do not think the IMU took part in the disturbances in the south,” he said. “As an expert in this area, I can state with 100 per cent certainty that this goes against the IMU’s ideology. It would be unacceptable for the IMU to incite conflict between two Muslim nations.”
Orozbek Moldaliev, director of the Sedep think tank in Bishkek, said the security agency had produced no actual evidence to back its claims.
“The IMU does not seek to incite ethnic conflicts; its ideal is the creation of an Islamic state,” he said. “If the IMU had organised these disturbances, there would have been slogans referring to the Caliphate, and it would have tried to seize power at least in the south.”
The Kyrgyz security service also accused some local leaders of the Uzbek community of collaborating with both Bakiev supporters and the IMU.
Noting that they had previously campaigned for greater political rights and higher status for the Uzbek language, the agency said that “to further their political demands, they teamed up with terrorists and pro-Bakiev forces”.
Once again, in the absence of evidence, this does not seem to make much sense. Uzbeks make up a sizeable proportion of the population of southern Kyrgyzstan and hold considerable economic power, but felt particularly shut out from political representation under Bakiev. This led community leaders to hail the interim government that replaced him, and this in turn appears to have sparked attempts by Bakiev associates to vilify them and turn local Kyrgyz opinion against them. (See Spectre of Ethnic Violence in Kyrgyzstan for a description of ethnic clashes in May where the Uzbeks’ pro-government stance is discussed.)
Finally, if the prime movers of the violence are supposed to have been Uzbeks from the IMU and local elites, why was the Uzbek community of southern Kyrgyzstan so undeniably the losing side in terms of homes burnt and people displaced?
At the same time, Malikov and Moldaliev both conceded that if mercenaries were used, they could have been members of the IMU or some other group, now operating as independent hired guns.
Leonid Bondarets, a security expert in Bishkek, agreed with Malikov that there were a host of forces with a potential interest in creating instability – organised crime groups, including those from the lucrative heroin trafficking trade, and politicians of various stripes.
Baibolov, the security chief in Jalalabad, said Bakiev associates were among the likely culprits, but were by no means the only political forces that might be out for trouble. There were also disaffected groups within the interim government, and political factions belonging to neither side looking to make inroads amid the chaos.
Akmal, an Uzbek businessman from Osh, said he was now convinced that the chaos was caused “not by nationalists, not even by pro-Bakiev forces, but a range of gangster groups”.
He based his view on the rise in kidnappings. One of his friends paid 500 dollars to secure the release of a female relative, while one of Akmal’s own relatives was still missing, as the kidnappers had not been in contact even though the ransom had been gathered.
He himself suffered assault and the theft of his phone from one of a series of groups of angry young Kyrgyz he encountered as he made his way through Osh. They seemed to be organised, each with an unmarked vehicle, and waiting to prey on passers-by. While he was being attacked, he said, a nearby policeman hailed a passing taxi and fled.
Ainagul Abdrakhmanova and Isomidin Ahmedjanov are IWPR-trained journalists in Kyrgyzstan.
This article was produced jointly under two IWPR projects: Building Central Asian Human Rights Protection & Education Through the Media, funded by the European Commission; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.
The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Foreign Ministry of Norway.
By Dr. Keith Ablow
Monday’s Supreme Court decision on guns allows citizens to challenge city and state regulations that curtail their Second Amendment right to bear arms. This is an important ruling because it shores up the Constitution at a time when the Obama administration is testing it in more than one way. But it is also important psychologically for millions of Americans.
The right to bear arms is a critical component of feeling competent and autonomous as individuals, rather than relying on the goodwill of a super-powerful, unassailable government. A disarmed population is, by definition, a population that has completely ceded the power to defend its homes against local, state or federal authorities. This implies a level of trust much more consistent with that which children have for parents than that which thinking adults have for the institutions they have created to perform vital functions like defending the nation, keeping the peace, maintaining schools and providing clean water.
A disarmed population is allowed the toxic luxury of feeling as though our way of life and our safety from oppression comes without the tremendous responsibilities and moral complexities of wielding force. The same people who passively pay taxes that put tanks on the streets and fighter jets in the skies over our enemies’ nations can cringe at the idea of owning guns themselves — projecting their survival instincts onto an all-powerful father figure (the state).
History is replete with examples of cultures in which taking guns away from law-abiding citizens foreshadowed catastrophic abuses of the power thereby invested in government. One need look no further than Nazi Germany.
While gun control advocates point to the toll of accidental deaths and murders involving firearms, I believe such tragedies highlight the need for citizens to take more personal responsibility for the handguns they own, not any justification for them to be infantilized by banning them from owning handguns at all.
It may well be that putting more guns in the hands of American men and women and training them to safely store those guns would actually be one immediate way to immunize the population from feeling like passive participants in history and in safeguarding what we value about our way of life. Every gun privately and legally owned in America is a tiny impediment to the citizenry assuming a docile, nearly delusional perspective that the world will always be predictable, that one’s home and loved ones will always be safe and that government will always tend toward light and never toward darkness.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for Fox News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His book, “Living the Truth: Transform Your Life Through the Power of Insight and Honesty” has launched a new self-help movement includingwww.livingthetruth.com. Dr. Ablow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Tanveer Jafri
Though Pakistan’s links with terrorism have been disclosed many times, still such facts and information keep coming which strengthen this truth. Recently an American report claimed that the ISI has secret links with the Taliban. This report has come when the USA is providing both money and arms to Pakistan to counter and defeat the Taliban. Now in this context we can remember those charges of India in which it says that Pakistan uses the military and monetary support received from the US against India.
Though this sensational report has been rejected by Pakistan but the makers of the report have again asserted that they have not one but many proofs. Now it is to be seen what claims Pakistan presents to prove its innocence. Now let’s look at another aspect of the terrorism-Pakistan relations which doesn’t require any report and which can’t be called a part of ‘conspiracy’ against Pakistan. Recently, the government of Punjab province of Pakistan presented its budget in which 0.82 million rupees have been declared for the banned organisation Jamaat-Ud-Daawah. Let me mention once again what this Jamaat-Ud-Daawah exactly is. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the main conspirator of the Mumbai attacks of 26/11, is an international terrorist who is freely moving and publicly abusing America and India in Pakistan. The same Hafiz Saeed earlier established the terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba. When it became excessively notorious, then Saeed put up the label of social organisation on it and in this way in 2001, he became head of the newly self created organisation Jamaat-Ud-Daawah. Meanwhile, LeT was banned under international pressure.
The lone caught terrorist of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Ajmal Kasab himself admitted in the special court in Mumbai that the 26/11 attack was conspired in Pakistan in which 20 people including Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-Ur-Rahman Lakhvi were involved. Indian court also in its verdict has mentioned the name of Hafiz Saeed as a conspirator of Mumbai attacks. A Red Corner notice was also issued against Saeed by the Interpol in August 2009 in relation to 26/11 attacks. Consequently he was house-arrested in December 2008. But on June 2, 2009 the Lahore High Court let freed Hafiz Saeed by saying that there is no proof of his and Lakhvi’s involvement in 26/11.
Many more things are noticeable regarding Hafiz Saeed. His image of ‘cleric’ has made him popular among the illiterate masses of Punjab province. This also restricts Pak government to act against him. Secondly, Hafiz Saeed has the ‘umbrella’ protection of hundreds of trained militants. Therefore it is not easy to arrest him as a terrorist. Moreover, Pakistan has been using Saeed to achieve its ends in Kashmir. Now in these circumstances, if Pakistan wants to arrest him or take strict action against him, then Hafiz Saeed can disclose many such truths which can create problems for the Pak government, Pak Army and the ISI. It’s obvious that Pakistan would not allow this to happen.
By above situation, it should be clear that why money is being alotted to Jamaat-Ud-Daawah from the Punjab government budget. Its supporters anyway say that the UN or the US has no right to ban any organisation active in Pakistan. According to them banning of any organisation in Pakistan requires a specific notification by the Pakistan government whereas no such notification has been issued by the government vis-a-vis Jamaat-Ud-Daawah. Therefore Jamaat-Ud-Daawah cannot be called as a banned organisation. It is clear by this defensive claim by Pak officials that neither it is concerned by the confession of Kasab, nor by the verdict of the Indian court, nor by any kind of pressure from India, USA and the UN. There is no need to worry for them because a sea of well wishers of Hafiz Saeed is there in Pakistan government, Army and ISI. Rather current circumstances are telling that the Pak government, Army and ISI themselves are concerned as to how to protect Jamaat-Ud-Daawah so that in future it can help them in their anti-India operations in Kashmir.
It seems so contradictory while the Pak government and Lahore High Court don’t treat Saeed as an accused for 26/11 whereas Indian court considers him as a culprit and the Indian government has also given enough proofs of his involvement to the Pak government. Notwithstanding all this Hafiz Saeed is publicly saying in Pakistani cities that one 26/11 is not sufficient for India. On what basis he is openly threatening India? Recently, Jamaat-Ud-Daawah organised an anti-Israel protest on main roads of Pakistan. In this, the extremist leaders of Daawah were seen crushing the flags of India, USA and Israel. Hafiz Saeed also participated in this rally. Pak government didn’t take any action against this. Anti-India rhetoric and firebrand speeches are common in Pakistan nowadays. As things stand, it is difficult to expect something substantial by our peace talks and attempts to normalise relations.
As far as the control of terrorism by Pakistan through American support is concerned, the American report and the provision of money for Jamaat-Ud-Daawah in the budget of Punjab have proved that Pakistan and terrorism are synonymous to each other. Since this terrorism was born, nurtured and protected in Pakistan, it becomes the duty of Pakistan to act against it either under frustration of killing of innocent people by these terrorists or under pressure from the US or as a consequence of its insult in the world. But the intentions of the Pak government and ground situation in Pakistan are repeatedly indicating that we cannot expect much from Pakistan as far as catching hold of terrorism is concerned.