With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are to be marketed to Chinese tourists in a new drive by tourism agency VisitAberdeen.
The campaign will see the creation of a new website for the lucrative Chinese market, as well as attendance at key tourism events aimed at encouraging visitors to the region.
Steve Harris, Chief Executive of VisitAberdeen, said:
“China boasts the largest outbound tourism market and is the highest spender on overseas travel, contributing $124 billion (around £78 billion) to the global tourism industry – 50% higher than that of the USA.
“This willingness to travel and explore overseas, coupled with a cultural love of golf, whisky and history, makes Aberdeen the perfect destination for Chinese tourists. With 60 golf courses within an hour of the city, some of the world’s most famous whisky brands including The Glenlivet and Royal Lochnagar, and a number of the finest castles in Scotland, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have a lot of offer Chinese tourists.”
There are now around 638 million Chinese internet users who make $22 billion (almost £14 billion) worth of bookings online each year. VisitAberdeen will capitalise on this with the launch of a new website aimed at Chinese tourists looking to travel overseas.
“We have been working with the China Business Network (CBN) to create a new website which will be hosted on the China Wide Web. This has involved the translation of a large portion of the VisitAberdeen website, which will provide useful information to those wishing to travel from China to Aberdeen.
“This year 110 million Chinese tourists travelled overseas, and it is predicted that in the next 15 years this will increase to 500 million. Through the introduction of our new website, we will reach out to those travellers and show them all that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire has to offer.
“We are also working to produce Chinese brochures and literature that will be distributed throughout the country, and will be represented by the CBN at the China International Travel Mart from 14-16 November.”
In 2015, VisitAberdeen plans to have a presence at further international travel markets in China, in order to reach out to tourism operators to show them the value of Aberdeen as a tourism destination. VisitAberdeen will attend the China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market, and Incentive Travel and Conventions, Meetings China exhibitions next year.
VisitAberdeen is a partnership between Aberdeen City Council and the industry including Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association and Aberdeen Inspired. For further information, visit www.visitaberdeen.com
Yon Hammas an the Israelis Are aat it haimmer an tongs Fin Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded Es twa wull git nae gongs . Some Amazonian Indian fowk Oot the rainforest they did come Noo the media ca them a “lost” tribe Wi little coverin up their bum . The tribe noo a’m fair sure Didna think aat they war “lost” They kent fine far they war Yet inti print sic wirds war tossed . We’re ask’t ti nae shak hans It micht jist spread bacteria Es little bit o havers is Mair likely ti spread hysteria . We’re aa commemoratin’ the stairt O the “war ti end aa wars” Far millions war killed or woundit Some left wi mental scars . Lions led bi bliddy donkeys Is fit history’s noo decreed Commemorate the stairt o a war? Na jist the puir buggers fa are deid . Kylie sang at the Commonwealth Games A wheep wis aa aat wis missin Wi aat costume she fair leukit like A bordello madame ripe fer kissin . A wifie fae Aiberdeen Inspired His bin a maist gypit deem Bi gien her man a secret rise In his pey packit it wid seem
In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the last part of his four article series.
Libya is an artificial state like much of the Middle East and Africa, carved out in the colonial era of early 20th century by Italy. After independence in 1951 Libya was ruled by a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris, Libya’s only monarch, who presided over an essentially tribal society.
On 1 September 1969, a small group of military officers led by 27-year-old army officer Muammar Qaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris, launching the Libyan Revolution.
Following the murder of Qaddafi in October 2011 and the collapse of his allies, the National Transitional Council (NTC) were recognised by the NATO powers at the same time however countries like Cuba and Venezuela who had offered to broker negotiations left their embassy’s in Libya.
The NTC from its outset was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood who are now, of course, out of favour with their erstwhile NATO backers.
In August 2012 a new Assembly was elected dominated again by the Brotherhood as in Morsi’s Egypt or Tunisia. The Muslim Brotherhoods ally Nuri Abu Sahmain is President of Libya. Mohammed Magarie replaced Mostafa Abdeljali in August last year as Head of State and Ali Zeidin replaced Abdurrahim al-Keib as Prime Minister in November last year following internal and external difficulties.
The latest news on March 12th throws Libya into even greater turmoil. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeiden was deposed on March 12th and fled to Malta, the Maltese government confirmed, on a stopover toward a reported destination of Germany.
Zeidan fled his country immediately following a vote of no confidence which ended his roughly one-and-a-half-year term as prime minister of the North African country. The hasty departure of the ex-diplomat rendered moot any attempts to arrest him.
Zeidan, who during his term as prime minister was once kidnapped and held for hours by armed militants, failed in recent days to stop rebels in the country’s east from controlling the sale of crude oil there. In spite of armed forces loyal to the government ensuring that a tanker called “Morning Glory” remained in harbor in Al-Sidra – the city has been held for months it left port and escaped flying a North Korean flag.
Back in Tripoli the blunder turned the mood in the provisional parliament against Zeidan. The subsequent no confidence vote was later criticized by Libyan media as a “trick” on the former prime minister.
Rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran now appears to be the winner in the war of nerves over the strategically vital oil harbors. Until July 2013 he was commander of the unit sent to protect the oil installations, explains Libya expert Amanda Kadlec of the Chatham House think tank in London.
“This gave him ease of access to all the port facilities throughout Libya”
His supporters have occupied three terminals, she says, and he has called for a separate government for a portion of eastern Libya. It remains unclear how many fighters Jathran commands, but according to Kadlec, reports range anywhere from 800 to 20,000.
Numerous accounts confirm the reality that lawless bands, armed by NATO during the war with modern weapons and which include foreign and local Al-Qaeda and other jihadists, are carrying out daily bombings across the country in the struggle for local control. Tripoli itself has numerous armed militias controlling various sections of the capital.
The general picture in Libya is that of developing armed struggle between local tribal militias and the Brotherhood that controls the central government with leaders in the provinces of Cyrenaica and Fezzan seeking to break away from Tripoli.
Congress has summoned militias allied to the Brotherhood to the capital to try to prevent a coup. As a result, the main opposition party, the centre-right National Forces Alliance, has deserted Congress together with several smaller ethnic parties, leaving the Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction party heading a government with crumbling authority.
The July 2013 coup in Egypt against Morsi has further weakened the government which had intended to support Morsi with finance from oil revenues.
Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias who act outside the law, demand bribes for services and help perpetrate rampant corruption. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June last year and a further 44 were killed in Tripoli on 8th September.
The unreported Libyan diaspora
Prior to the 2011 “revolution” Libya had a population of 5,613,380 of whom roughly 2 million are now either internally displaced in camps or outside of the country. Official statistics suggest that 1.2million are now living in Tunisia, 400,000 in Egypt and 30,000 in Chad with others scattered around the world. We hear virtually nothing in our media about this and very little about the deteriorating situation inside Libya.
Libya exports terrorism
According to the New York Times, 13th June 2013, some of the more militant Islamic factions are now fighting in Syria and arms for the Islamic groups are coming from Libya.
However, Qaddafi’s assertion in 2011 that the rebels included Al-Qaeda groups was dismissed by the Western media. Prior to the conflict Al-Qaeda sympathisers had trained in Afghanistan then, on their return to Libya, started a bombing campaign. This led to arrests and imprisonments but ACCOR they were let out on amnesty largely according to the Amnesty 2010 report on Libya due to the influence of Qaddafi’s son Salif.
Though the NATO intervention against Qaddafi was justified as a humanitarian response to the threat that Qaddafi’s tanks and planes would slaughter dissidents in Benghazi, the international community has chosen to ignore the continuing and escalating violence. The foreign media, which once filled the hotels of Benghazi and Tripoli, have likewise paid little attention to the near collapse of the central government.
The strikers in the eastern region Cyrenaica, which contains most of Libya’s oil, are part of a broader movement seeking more autonomy and blaming the government for spending oil revenues in the west of the country. Foreigners have mostly fled Benghazi since the American ambassador, Chris Stevens, was murdered in the US consulate by jihadi militiamen in September 2012.
Violence has worsened since then with Libya’s military prosecutor Colonel Yussef Ali al-Asseifar, in charge of investigating assassinations of politicians, soldiers and journalists, himself assassinated by a bomb in his car on 29 August last year.
Rule by local militias is also spreading anarchy around the capital. Ethnic Berbers, whose militia led the assault on Tripoli in 2011, temporarily took over the parliament building in Tripoli. The government called on the Supreme Security Committee, made up of former anti-Qaddafi militiamen nominally under the control of the interior ministry, to restore order.
At least 19 prisoners received gunshot shrapnel wounds, with one inmate saying “they were shooting directly at us through the metal bars”. There have been several mass prison escapes this year in Libya including 1,200 escaping from a prison after a riot in Benghazi in July.
The Interior Minister, Mohammed al-Sheikh, resigned last year in frustration at being unable to do his job, saying in a memo sent to Mr Zeidan that he blamed him for failing to build up the army and the police. He accused the government, which is largely dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, of being weak and dependent on tribal support.
Other critics point out that a war between two Libyan tribes, the Zawiya and the Wirrshifana, is going on just 15 miles from the Prime Minister’s office.
the terror network only retreats to remote areas, regroups and eventually bounces back
The surrounding area both Sudan and Mali and of course Syria have been greatly affected by Qaddafi’s fall. There has been civil wars in Mali and conflict in the Sudan. Al Qaeda has used Libya as a training ground for sending combatants into Syria.
In the rocky mountains and uncovered wastes of south-western Libya, al-Qaeda’s North African branch has established a haven after French and West African forces drove them out of their fledgling Islamic state in northern Mali a year ago.
Now, according to interviews with local soldiers, residents, officials and Western diplomats, it is restocking weapons and mining disaffected minorities for new recruits as it prepares to re-launch attacks.
It is an al-Qaeda pattern seen around the world, in hot spots such as Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan and increasingly in North Africa: seemingly defeated, the terror network only retreats to remote areas, regroups and eventually bounces back – pointing to the extreme difficulties involved in countering their growth and influence.
On Saturday January 18th 2014, a group of heavily armed fighters stormed an air force base outside the city of Sabha in southern Libya, expelling forces loyal to the “government” of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, and occupying the base. This report has been confirmed by the Saudi Gazette in an article dated 22nd January:
“The Tamenhint air base 30 km northeast of Sebha is reported to be back in pro-Qaddafi hands after Tebu forces from Murzuk who were guarding it withdrew. They unilaterally pulled out Monday evening [Jan. 20] claiming that the government was deliberately exploiting clashes in Sebha between Tebus and Awlad Sulaiman in order to divert attention from moves to replace it with a new administration.”
At the same time, reports from inside the country began to trickle in that the green flag of the Jamahiriya was flying over a number of cities throughout the country. Despite the dearth of verifiable information – the government in Tripoli has provided only vague details and corroboration – one thing is certain: the war for Libya continues.
Since mid-January forces that remain allied with the former Jamahiriya political and economic system set up by Qaddafi have taken control of several cities and towns in the south. Clashes have also been reported around the capital of Tripoli, where nationalist forces have fought pitched battles with militias and military forces backed by the GNC regime. (Libya Herald, 20th Jan)
These developments have prompted French Admiral Edouard Gillard in the Washington post to appeal for a fresh NATO intervention.
Dissatisfaction is growing among the Libyan population. Once the most prosperous nation in Africa, with a standard of living that exceeded several European countries, the conditions inside the country have drastically deteriorated since 2011. The decline in living standards, the failure of the regime to rein in the militias that terrorize the population, the collapse of the oil industry and widespread corruption have drawn broad criticism, even among the favoured elites.
Another decree issued in January prohibits scholarship students and public employees from speaking out against the conditions prevailing in Libya. According to AllAfrica.com:
“It calls on Libyan embassies abroad and others to draw up lists of names and refer them to the Prosecutor General for prosecution.”
What is certain is that unrest will continue for some considerable time and the civilians who NATO and the UN Security Council resolution 1973 was meant to protect will be those that suffer the most and it is almost certain that the world will continue to turn a blind eye.
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the second part of a new four article series.
As in the whole of the Middle East human rights abuses were of considerable concern under the Jamahiriya Government. The Amnesty International Report in 2010 in its introduction makes the following point:
“Freedom of expression, association and assembly continued to be severely curtailed and the authorities showed little tolerance of dissent. Critics of the government’s human rights record were punished. Former detainees at Guantánamo Bay returned to Libya by US authorities continued to be detained; one died in custody, apparently as a result of suicide.
“Foreign nationals suspected of being in the country irregularly, including refugees and asylum-seekers, were detained and ill-treated. An official investigation began into the killing of prisoners at Abu Salim Prison in 1996 but no details were disclosed and some of the victims’ relatives who had campaigned for the truth were arrested.
“Hundreds of cases of enforced disappearance and other serious human rights violations committed in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s remained unresolved, and the Internal Security Agency (ISA), implicated in those violations, continued to operate with impunity.”
What Amnesty fails to report however, is that health services and education were available to a high standard to everyone, food and electricity was heavily subsidised, all the population had been housed and the position of women in society was better than anywhere else in the Middle East or Africa, and in many ways better than many Western countries. The situation in Libya was also far from straightforward.
Numbers of men, particularly from Benghazi, had gone to Afghanistan to the Al-Qaeda training camps then returned to Libya and started a bombing campaign. The largest grouping of Al-Qaeda prior to the conflict fighting in Iraq came from Benghazi.
According to West Point authors Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman,
“Saudi Arabia took first place as regards absolute numbers of jihadists sent to combat the United States and other coalition members in Iraq during the time frame in question. Libya, a country less than one fourth as populous, took second place. Saudi Arabia sent 41% of the fighters.”
According to Felter and Fishman,
“Libya was the next most common country of origin, with 18.8% (112) of the fighters listing their nationality stating they hailed from Libya.”
Other much larger countries were far behind:
“Syria, Yemen, and Algeria were the next most common origin countries with 8.2% (49), 8.1% (48), and 7.2% (43), respectively. Moroccans accounted for 6.1% (36) of the records and Jordanians 1.9% (11).”
This means that almost one fifth of the foreign fighters entering Iraq across the Syrian border came from Libya, a country of just over 6 million people. A higher proportion of Libyans were interested in fighting in Iraq than any other country contributing mujahedin. Felter and Fishman point out:
“Almost 19 percent of the fighters in the Sinjar Records came from Libya alone. Furthermore, Libya contributed far more fighters per capita than any other nationality in the Sinjar Records, including Saudi Arabia.”
“But since the Al Qaeda personnel files contain the residence or hometown of the foreign fighters in question, we can determine that the desire to travel to Iraq to kill Americans was not evenly distributed across Libya, but was highly concentrated precisely in those areas around Benghazi.” ( See chart below from the West Point report, page 9 )
Unsurprisingly, Qaddafi and his government saw them as a threat to the stability of Libya. Apart from the sanctions, this was a major reason why Qaddafi came to the agreement with the West which was facilitated by Tony Blair.
None of this excuses the human rights abuses, but does put them in a wider context.
What can be said is that for the majority of people in Libya, life was good; however, if you went against the regime, watch out.
Though human rights violations in Libya under Qaddafi were bad, what followed in the wake of the so called ‘revolution’ far outstripped the human rights abuses of his time.
Armed militias continue to commit serious human rights abuses with impunity, including arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and unlawful killings. Thousands of people suspected of formerly supporting or fighting for Qaddafi’s government remained detained without charge or trial and with no means of remedy. The most famous of these is Salif Al-Islam, Qaddafi’ second son, who is still being held by one of the militias in Zinan.
Tens of thousands of people who were forced to leave their homes in areas perceived to have supported Qaddafi in 2011 remain internally displaced and continue to be at risk of revenge attacks and other abuses. Undocumented foreign nationals faced arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, exploitation and torture or other ill-treatment.
Human Rights Watch recently posited the possible reasons for Libya’s current lawlessness. In a dispatch posted on 20th October 2013, Human Rights Watch described mass executions carried out by Libyan rebel groups on the day of Qaddafi’s death. In the days that followed, HRW gathered hard evidence of the executions and of who was responsible, which it presented to transitional authorities shortly afterward; to date, no investigation has been carried out.
“The failure to investigate systematic executions helped set the stage for the militia lawlessness in Libya today,” wrote Fred Abrahams, special advisor to HRW’s program office.
“Impunity for those and subsequent crimes sent the message that Libya’s armed groups stand above the law.”
Law 38 granted amnesty to those who committed crimes if their actions were aimed at “promoting or protecting the revolution” against Qaddafi.
On the 23rd October 2013 Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, stated that:
“two years after the conflict, Tawarghas and other displaced communities are still waiting for justice and effective reparations for the abuses they have suffered. Many continue to face discrimination and live in under-resourced camps with no solution in sight.”
Human rights Watch in their 2013 report have said:
“As of October, roughly 8,000 people were in detention. The majority of them were held for more than a year without charge or due process rights, including judicial review and access to a lawyer. The Ministry of Justice holds around 3,000 detainees, around 2,000 are held by the Ministry of Defence or Supreme Security Committee. The rest were being held illegally by various armed groups.’’
Given that most of the country is being run by militias the figures are likely to be in reality much higher.
Conditions in militia-run facilities varied, with detainees in some facilities reporting repeated torture and deaths in custody. Conditions in state-run facilities appeared to improve, although there continued to be cases of abuse and some deaths in custody.
Following rising violence the Interior Minister Mohamed Khalifa al Sheikh resigned in August last year
Non-Libyans from sub-Saharan Africa, mainly migrant workers, are particularly vulnerable to abuse, facing harassment, arrests, ill-treatment in detention, forced labour and no regulated access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Sporadic armed confrontations between militias across the country have caused hundreds of deaths; the victims included children and other civilians not involved in the fighting. Impunity remained entrenched, both for gross human rights violations committed in the past and for ongoing human rights abuses by armed militias.
Amnesty UK Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Libya Researcher, reported the following:
“The authorities have failed to break the stranglehold of the militias. Hundreds of armed militias that fought against Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s repressive regime now pose the greatest threat to human rights in Libya.
“In 2012, our researchers visited the country and found evidence of a catalogue of abuses, including arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, unlawful killings and forcible displacement. All are casting a shadow over post-revolution Libya.
“Torture is rife in Libya. It is carried out not just by military and security entities but also armed militia groups operating outside of legal frameworks.
“When our researchers visited 11 detention facilities in central and western Libya used by various militias, there was only one facility in which detainees did not report torture and ill treatment. In ten, detainees showed us injuries resulting from recent abuse.
“At least eleven people detained by militias have been tortured to death.
“So far, not one person has been brought to justice for these human rights violations. There have been no effective investigations into cases of torture and deaths in custody.”
Following rising violence the Interior Minister Mohamed Khalifa al Sheikh resigned in August last year. Some 500 prisoners in Tripoli jail undertook a hunger strike to protest being held for two years without charges. When the government ordered the Supreme Security Committee to restore order, they began shooting prisoners through the bars. Where was the outcry from the West? In July 1200 prisoners escaped a jail after a riot in Benghazi. In short, lawlessness and anarchy is spreading
The position of women
Whilst Islamic law established almost equal rights for women in relation to divorce for the past 1,400 years, under the Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya Government the rights of women became greatly enhanced. Women were granted equal rights to men with many younger women in the cities wearing western clothes and thirty percent were in employment, which compared well with many other Middle Eastern countries.
Women were also increasingly seen driving, shopping and travelling without husbands or male companions, a practice which is forbidden in some countries in the Middle East. Child brides were banned and the minimum legal age to marry placed at 18. Women became lawyers, judges, aircraft pilots, army commanders and Ministers in the Government. It has been suggested that women had a stronger position in Libya than in any country in the world. By all accounts, the rights of women have taken a severe setback since the destruction of Jamahiriya, particularly in areas held by Al Qaeda.
According to the Human Rights Watch 2013 report, attacks against religious minorities started in October 2011, and intensified in 2012. Armed groups motivated by their religious views attacked Sufi religious sites across the country, destroying several mosques and tombs of Sufi religious leaders. Armed groups attacked churches in at least two incidents in Tripoli in May and September. The government’s security forces have failed to stop the attacks and have made no significant arrests.
Amnesty International has said that a total around 65,000 people are internally displaced across Libya, not just Tawarghas, but members of the Mashashya tribe from the Nafusa Mountains, residents of Sirte and Bani, Walid, and Tuaregs from Ghadames too.
The Tawarghas, ethnic black Libyans, are among those who have suffered the most. More than 1,300 Tawarghas are estimated to be missing, detained or were subjected to enforced disappearances, mainly in Misratah. Most were seized by militias and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, such as electric shocks, whipping and beatings with metal bars or water pipes in detention.
Amnesty International has asked the Libyan authorities to investigate all cases of enforced disappearance and indiscriminate torture, including of victims perceived as pro-al Qaddafi.
The European Union (EU), last year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and its member states have been assisting the Libyan authorities in tightening border security and developing “an integrated border management strategy” in order to curb “illegal migration” to Europe at the expense of human rights. Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the EU to fully protect the human rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, and put in place a satisfactory system for assessing and recognising claims for international protection.
Migrants in Libya are often perceived to be a threat to national security. Since May 2012, the Libyan authorities have deported 25,000 persons.
“EU funding should be used to promote and protect human rights in Libya, especially while the country is still recovering from a recent armed conflict and confronted with a legacy of abuse,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui from Amnesty International has said.
“It is deeply troubling that EU funds appear have been used to support detention centres where thousands of foreign nationals are unlawfully held. Asylum-seekers and refugees who are entitled to international protection and should only be detained because of their status in the most exceptional circumstances are among those routinely detained and abused in detention.”
Libya’s immigration detention practices not only violate the country’s international obligations under refugee and human rights law and standards, but they are also at odds with EU human rights obligations as well as EU standards concerning the detention and return of third country nationals.
Libya’s Constitutional Declaration, adopted in 2011, declares that the “state shall guarantee the right of asylum by virtue of the law”. It is urgent the authorities translate this principle into real action and adopt legislation establishing a national asylum system.
Amnesty International has urged the EU, and member states, not to enter into further agreements on migration control with Libya until the government demonstrates that it respects Human Rights.
Thousands of people deemed to have entered Libya “irregularly” have been held in detention for months before their deportation, without access to a lawyer or the ability to challenge their forcible removal and/or detention.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui from Amnesty International (AI) has said:
“The Libyan authorities must amend their legislation by setting a maximum detention period pending deportation for migrants.”
AI also found evidence that the Libyan authorities have resumed deporting foreign nationals diagnosed with infections such as hepatitis or HIV after compulsory medical tests were introduced earlier this year. No individual should be deported on the grounds of their medical condition. Hassiba continued:
“Reintroducing compulsory testing for foreign nationals and deportation on the ground of their health status amounts to scapegoating them and only proves how inadequate Libya’s public health policies are.”
At the time of AI’s investigation a total of 5,000 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were held in 17 “holding centres” under the Ministry of Interior, in addition to an unknown number of detainees held by militias. AI’s delegates also met a small number of unaccompanied children, sometimes as young as 10, who had been detained in at least three “holding centres” for months.
Many of the “holding centres” visited had extremely poor hygiene standards exposing those held there to the risk of disease, including chest infections and chronic diarrhoea. At the “holding centre” in Sabha, where some 1,300 were being held last May, detainees were held in filthy, overcrowded rooms.
The prison also lacked a functioning sewage system – and piles of garbage filled the corridors. Around 80 detainees – who complained of itchiness on their hands and genitals, suggesting a scabies infection – were held in a courtyard in the sun as treatment, but became dehydrated due to extended exposure to sun.
Denying detainees proper medical care is inexcusable. Libya’s government must show the world it is serious about protecting the rights of all individuals in Libya, whatever their status and nationality.
To date, NATO, which waged the air campaign against Qaddafi’s forces, has failed to investigate properly at least 72 civilian casualties caused by its airstrikes. The UN Commission into Libya also received written reports from the authorities stating that NATO launched about 3,000 airstrikes on several civilian and military targets in Libya. According to the same unverified reports, these strikes resulted in the death of 500 civilians and 2,000 injured.
The same reports stated that NATO had targeted schools, universities, mosques, and others civilian locations. According to the same sources, 56 schools and three universities were directly hit by these strikes. Furthermore, it is claimed that NATO airstrikes have resulted in the closure of 3,204 schools, leaving 437,787 students without access to education.
Security Council members that initially championed resolution 1970 referring Libya to the ICC have been largely silent on Libya’s obligation under that resolution to cooperate with the court.
The Truth About Libya: NATO Crimes & Mass Media Lies Exposed! Reported by Russia Today in 2011.
Though some of the people in Libya have benefited for the majority life has turned into nothing short of a nightmare.
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the second part of a new four article series.
As world attention has focused on the coup in Egypt and the Syrian conflict, Libya has plunged almost unnoticed into a political and economic crisis. Two and a half years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases”, to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural oil and gas extraction.
Before the civil war, oil companies were sometimes only allowed eight percent of the profits from oil and gas exploration, the rest of the profits going to Libya.
These were the toughest exploration of gas and oil terms in the world, and as such were greatly disliked by the oil and gas multinationals. The need for this to change was greatly aided by the financial collapse in the West, leading to vast debts in their own economies and the need to get resources to balance the books.
After the civil war/invasion, the multinationals were to be given fifty percent or more of the profits, and in some cases for a 40-year period.
China, which was increasingly being given contracts, would be out of the framework. China had also been given a 20-billion dollar contract by the Libyan Government to build new housing. Again this fed into a wider picture of the West not liking the growing economic and political influence of China in Africa. It must be stated however that China has been given a contract recently to build 20,000 homes in Benghazi.
Qaddafi also had considerable influence in African countries, many of whom had been ex- French colonies, and this conflicted with France’s economic need to have more influence in their old colonies.
After the 2011 civil war/invasion, Libya exceeded expectations and rapidly ramped up its oil production by more than one million barrels per day and doubled its real GDP. That recovery, however, was short lived. Libya has now almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government has lost control of much of the country to militia fighters.
Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, initially threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Qaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.
In an escalating crisis, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day in December. Only offshore fields remained largely out of the militia’s reach and have been supporting Libya’s production. However, offshore volumes tend to be small.
The UK government, in a desperate attempt to save face, has said it will train more of the Libyan army and, of course, sell the Libyan army even more weapons to help our balance of payments.
Libya has no shortage of oil resources – both conventional and unconventional. Libya holds Africa’s largest proven oil reserves. Its potential may be even greater as only about twenty percent of the country has been explored.
The recent loss in production has no precedent in Libya’s history. Existing oil companies have scaled down their activities with predictable negative consequences for the Libyan economy, which is poorly diversified and heavily reliant on hydrocarbon revenues. Oil and gas account for nearly 96 percent of government revenues and 98 percent of export revenues. This was a weakness of Qaddafi’s Socialist People’s Arab Jamahiriya Government, as it is now, with an over-dependency on oil and gas.
Corruption had become an increasing factor in Libya directly linked to the depletion in resources due to the sanctions applied by the West on Libya from the 1990s, which led to disquiet amongst the population and a decrease in the popularity of Qaddafi and his Government.
During the civil war, the drop in oil and gas production led to a contraction of real GDP by 62 percent, but the situation now is far worse. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned last year that current levels of government expenditure are unsustainable, if oil production does not return to pre-2011 levels, putting the country at risk and further fuelling already heightened socio-economic tensions.
Libya suffers from a high unemployment rate, especially among its young population and to survive many are enticed to join the militias, while much-needed public and private investment has remained anaemic. This high unemployment, both prior to and after the revolution, was a major factor in the growth of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups.
In May 2013 Libyan officials announced plans to review and draw up a new Petroleum Law for a 2014 licensing round which would offer more attractive fiscal terms in an attempt to entice international oil companies. Prior to the conflict China had been involved increasingly in the extraction of oil, a fact, as with China’s increasing economic links with Africa in general, much disliked by the West.
Libya should, as Philip Hammond had suggested, be on the radar of every international oil company when considering the size and quality of the country’s oil and gas reserves, but the latest developments have distorted the risk-reward balance that investors aim to achieve.
Foreign businesses were involved prior to the fall of Qaddafi but the government took in considerable revenue which supported free health care and education as well as subsidised food, housing and electricity. Having done away with the subsidies, many Libyans are now living in poverty. To get anything done Libyans have to bribe the militias who control not only militarily but also economically.
Prior to the overthrow of Qaddafi, the IMF estimated that the country’s total foreign assets were worth $150bn with just under half of that managed by the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), with other investments made through the central bank and other investment vehicles.
The Financial Times interviewed former Gaddafi officials, directors of LIA and bankers who had never done business with the LIA, concluding that vague claims of mismanagement were more rumour and innuendo with no hard evidence. The accountancy firm KPMG had provided reports and audit in 2010 which showed the LIA asset position steadily improving, and made no suggestions of corruption or wrongdoing by any LIA staff member.
Farhat Bengdara, a Qaddafi appointee, the former governor of the Central Bank of Libya and member of LIA’s board of trustees, claimed that there was a “clear lack of governance at the LIA” which is surprising since he’d been on its governance Board of Trustees until the revolution came. On Bengdara’s recommendation Sami Rais , another Qaddafi-era appointment, had been made chief executive of LIA in October 2009.
Rais and Bengdara were subsequently sacked by the new Government of Libya.
The record actually shows the LIA managed to preserve Libyan state assets throughout the banking crisis of 2008 – 2010, and then during the revolution. Although a few investments showed book losses in 2010, the asset base grew from US$50 billion in 2008 to US$63 billion by 2010.
The performance of the LIA compares very favourably with the huge losses, up to 50% of total asset value, suffered by most other Arab and international sovereign wealth funds over the same period.
Stephen Jen, a Morgan Stanley economist, put actual international sovereign wealth fund losses at US$700 billion to the end of 2008, compared with the Libyan Investment Authority’s reported actual profits and increase in asset value over the last six years of the Qaddafi era.
The Libyan Central Bank had 143.8 tonnes of gold. This is an enormous store of wealth – particularly with gold prices at a historic high of over $1,800 an ounce. In terms of gold per capita, Libya had the ninth biggest amount of gold wealth in the world, just behind the US, at 22 grams per person.
There are important questions over what has happened to this gold since amid the chaos in Tripoli this is still not known. It could potentially have fallen into the hands of Al-Qaeda, or individual tribal militias, or Qaddafi loyalists, or a Western Government or Governments. What has actually happened to the $150 billion of foreign investments is also not clear.
A report, which was leaked to the BBC, revealed that at the time of the invasion, some of the biggest and best-known financial institutions in the world held billions of dollars of Libyan state funds. Principal among them were HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Nomura and Société Générale. However, the banks refused to say whether they held, or are still holding, the funds.
All the assets have now been frozen by the European Union and United Nations.
The document, dated June 2010, showed that HSBC held $292.7m in 10 cash accounts, with a similar amount invested in a hedge fund, while Goldman Sachs had $43m in three accounts. Almost $4bn was held in investment funds and structured products, with Société Générale alone holding $1bn. The Japanese bank Nomura and the Bank of New York also held $500m each.
All the banks refused to make any public comment on the funds they received and managed on behalf of the Libyan Investment Authority, citing client confidentiality
A much larger proportion of LIA’s assets – $19bn in total – was held by Libyan and Middle Eastern Banks, the document revealed.
It also showed that the LIA holds billions of dollars in shares in global corporations such as General Electric, BP, Vivendi and Deutsche Telekom. It had already been widely reported that the fund also held stakes in UK publishing group Pearson, Italy’s UniCredit bank and industrial group Finmeccanica, as well as Canadian oil exploration group, Verenex Energy.
The board of directors of the LIA resigned in September 2012, citing what it said was the incompetence of the fund’s current management. That has meant that the LIA hasn’t been legally able to execute substantial trades or sell any holdings. The LIA’s current management has lost support of the government. Last November, the Libyan prime minister dismissed the chairman, but his refusal to step down sparked a political crisis in Tripoli.
Those involved in management has said the dismissal was politically motivated and is illegal.
It has been suggested that the Western intervention was about stopping Qaddafi, who was the Chairman of the African Union from 2009 to 2010, introducing the Gold Dinar as a currency in Africa. This would have had substantial effect on increasing the deteriorating value of the Dollar, Sterling and the Euro. Qaddafi’s decision to pursue the gold standard and reject dollars for oil payments may have sealed his fate.
The price for a barrel of oil rose above 100 dollars amid concerns over instability in Libya and South Sudan, plus a growing US and worldwide demand for fuel. Fighting in South Sudan and erratic oil production in Libya are having a ripple effect on the global oil market.
Libya’s state news agency says gunmen stole $54m (£33.5m) in an attack on a van carrying foreign and local currency for the Libyan central bank. Ten men stopped the van as it entered the city of Sirte from the airport. The cash delivery had been flown 300 miles (500km) from the capital, Tripoli. “The robbery is a catastrophe for the whole of Libya”, Abdel-Fattah Mohammed, head of Sirte Council, told Reuters.
Libya’s economy has gone from being one of the most stable and financially effective in the world to a complete calamity. Whether or not this will eventually be turned around is yet to be seen, but the losers at present, whatever happens in the future, are the vast majority of the Libyan people. The West, whose intervention was at best naive and at worst extremely sinister, has also not gained.
As with other conflicts in the Middle East, the US and its allies, primarily in this case the UK and France, have played into the hands of militant Islamic groups.
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the first part of a new four article series.
The lies used to justify the NATO war against Libya surpassed even those created to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both had observers on the ground for months following the rebellion in eastern Libya, and both have repudiated every major charge used to justify the NATO war on Libya, which was meant to have been about imposing a No-Fly Zone as agreed by the United Nations.
The video “Libya War Lies – Worse than Iraq” which can be found on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNWf1kw2eUk , is the work of Thomas Mountain, author of the widely read article by the same title, and explains his perception of the real reasons for the war on Libya.
The media also played an important role in galvanizing public opinion, in particular Al Jazeera whose output was trusted particularly by many people in the Middle East including Libyans and by those in the West who had come not to trust their own media.
Al Jazeera reported on 22nd February 2011 that Libya’s Government carried out airstrikes on Benghazi, Tripoli and elsewhere. Both observers and Russian satellite pictures have said since that this was not correct. Many Libyans who supported the uprising now regret their support, not only because they were misinformed, but also because of the appalling state that Libya now finds itself in.
Below is a clip from the speech by Denis Kucinich, who stood twice for the Democratic Party leadership in Congress, suggesting that the military intervention was pre-planned. He raises concerns about both the abuse of the United Nations and democracy in the USA. You can see three further clips of his speech on Youtube.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s address to Congress on the War in Libya:
There were no confirmed accounts of helicopter gunships attacking civilians, and no jet fighters bombing people, which completely invalidated any justification for the No-Fly Zone in the Security Council resolution used as an excuse for NATO to launch its attacks on Libya. There were some tragic examples of rape on both sides of the conflict. However, the stories of mass rapes by Government troops were never verified.
‘What has happened in Libya since the conflict is, however, far worse than could have been suspected and has been highlighted again with the flight of Prime Minister Al Zeidin fleeing the country this Wednesday. So much goes on in the world and particularly the Middle East that there is little news coming out about Libya. What we have heard about is the killing of the American ambassador in Benghazi and the taking hostage of the Libyan Prime Minister by a militia group; and most recently the killing of a UK citizen and his New Zealand partner.
The general impression is that the country is lawless.
Sir David Richards, leader of the British NATO forces at the time of the invasion of Libya, has said on BBC Radio 4 recently that Qaddafi has been proven right in what he said would happen to his country following his fall from power. That is, that the country would fall into the hands of Islamic extremists and there would be inter-tribal fighting.
When looking at the situation more closely what you see is a broken country – the basic facts are:
that the country is being ruled by militias and that the Central Government has little control. Al-Qaeda’s flag is flown in many towns.
Under Qaddafi, multinational oil companies got as little as 8% of the profits from oil and gas. By contrast, it was agreed by the Transitional Government during the conflict that they would get 50% or more and some for a 40-year period.
Oil and gas exploration has now almost collapsed as installations are controlled by the militias.
Libya had been one of the few countries in the world that was not badly affected by the world economic collapse of 2008. It is now nearly bankrupt according to the IMF.
Around 2 million of the 5,613,380 population are either displaced in camps in Libya or no longer living in Libya. These people are mostly in camps in surrounding countries and mostly forgotten by the world – including the UN.
A law was passed – Law 38 – saying that no action would be taken against any crimes that had taken place against Qaddafi loyalists. Thus all crimes committed by anti-Qaddafi forces, including Al-Qaeda’s and NATO’s crimes go unprosecuted and it is open season on ex-Qaddafi loyalists.
Human Rights violations are massive, torture and killings are common.
Not only were the electricity stations bombed by NATO, as was done in Iraq, but also the Great Man-Made River http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Man-Made_River which supplied the country with water. Although some repairs have been carried out, electricity is cut every day and there are water shortages.
Women’s rights and involvement in society which were strong under Qaddafi have taken a severe step backwards; some cannot even join university out of fear.
The Libyan bank had 143.8 tons of gold that disappeared: who in fact took this gold? None of the $153bn of assets held by Libya abroad has been returned.
Here is a clip from Russia TV:
Three further articles will examine:
the economic situation;
human rights; and
the political situation in Libya and surrounding countries
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The flying of the Palestinian flag signals Aberdeen’s solidarity with the Palestinian people who remain steadfast in the face of the denial of their national and human rights.
Dame Anne Begg MP is highly supportive of the Council’s plans, stating that:
“I am proud that Aberdeen City Council are flying the Palestinian flag from the Town House on November 29th to commemorate the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
“This day serves as an important reminder of continual hardships Palestinians face on a daily basis and the need for a just and lasting peaceful resolution to the conflict. I am happy to see Aberdeen stand side by side with the Palestinians at this time”
To celebrate this important event Aberdeen Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the University and College Union are hosting a public reception at the University of Aberdeen’s Macrobert Lecture Theatre on the evening of the 29th November.
A number of excellent speakers will be talking on the night, with the theme of the evening focused on how best to build and strengthen links and solidarity between Aberdeen and Palestine.
There will be an opportunity to hear directly from Gaza, as Rafat Abushaban, a Gazan activist, will speak live through video –link, giving an update on the situation in Gaza. Frank Doran, MP for Aberdeen North, will reflect on his own visit last year to Palestine as part of a Labour delegation.
Poetry of the Palestinian struggle will be provided by Hilda Meers from Scottish Jews for a Just Peace. Mike Arnott, from Dundee Trades Union Council, who was part of the effort which led to Dundee’s twinning with Nablus, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, will tell of this success.
We will also be joined by Aberdeen TUC’s Tommy Campbell who will discuss Aberdeen’s history of solidarity struggle, particularly against South African Apartheid.
Karolin Hijazi, a Palestinian activist, working with Aberdeen UCU and SPSC will then talk about the potential and importance of taking forward Palestine Solidarity in Aberdeen.
It is hoped that as well as marking a historic date for Aberdeen’s solidarity with the people of Palestine, this event will build on and strengthen the struggle for Palestinian rights in Aberdeen. If you would like further information, please contact email@example.com
Flying the Flag for Palestine in Aberdeen
6pm on 29th November,
Macrobert Lecture Theatre,
University of Aberdeen,
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Something for the weekend, sir? Duncan Harley comments on the newspapers you might like to read if you had the time, the money and the inclination. This week he looks at The Times Saturday.
At a cool £1.50 a pop, The Times Saturday Scotland Edition is quite a heavyweight. My bathroom scales are a bit creaky but I reckon this week’s 70960th edition weighs in at just over 0.62kg, including inserts. That’s a fair weight indeed. If US figures are to be believed, then around 500,000 trees are required just to make the paper to print the Sunday papers in the USA.
The UK weekend papers probably consume proportionally as much timber. However, digital may well be the way to go with offerings from DC Thompson, The Sun and Aberdeen Voice pioneering a tree-free eco-press.
On the moon of course, this week’s Times Saturday would weigh a mere 0.1kg due to reduced gravity, but when I last checked there were no trees on this side of the moon. This might make printing somewhat difficult.
This week’s newspaper leads on two stories. The first is an extended piece about Robert Mugabe’s secret deal to sell uranium to Iran. It seems this ‘secret’ deal may lead to ‘retaliatory action by the international community’, according to correspondent Michael Evans. More sanctions against the ordinary folk of Zimbabwe are on the horizon it seems.
Alongside this front page leader, runs a story about some cute pandas. Apparently Tian Tian, who is one of only a thousand pandas left in the world, may be pregnant.
Edinburgh Zoo spent £250,000 constructing a state-of-the-art panda enclosure and currently pays China fees of £650,000 per year, a fact not many people will know since The Times has not chosen to incorporate this information in the cute panda article.
Times cartoonist Morten Morland has drawn on the affair with a parody on page 23, two adult pandas are pictured lying slumped after a meal of bamboo shoots with a speech bubble reading, ‘Alex Salmond says the birth will be announced on an easel outside the Scottish Parliament’. Not very original perhaps, but certainly very revealing of the editorial stance of the newspaper.
On page 27, Pickles features again
All is not doom and gloom, however. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government makes the news in two articles.
On page 13, Eric Pickles is slated for suggesting that UK birth certificates will soon be replaced by an EEC compulsory registration document. It seems this may be complete rubbish, and Karl Turner, Labour MP for Hull East is quoted, ‘This looks very embarrassing for Eric Pickles. He’s been caught red-handed, scaremongering in the desperate search for a headline’.
On page 27, Pickles features again. In a somewhat scathing piece, the paper’s Chief Political Correspondent Michael Savage lives up to his name quoting a peer’s take on the so-called Go Home adverts currently being funded by the Home Office. These have led to more than 60 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, and are ‘nasty’ according to Lord Ouseley.
The paper’s France correspondent Adam Sage reports from Paris on Pyrenees farmers threatening to shoot the local population of brown bears after a spate of attacks on sheep. It seems there are around 22 of the rare creatures surviving in the wild. President Holland is seemingly under pressure to ‘bring in another bearbut‘, whatever that may mean.
Not one to disappoint those of a masturbatory disposition, The Times does of course have a Page 3 girl. In this weekend’s edition she is on page 41 hidden in the somewhat discreet World section of the paper. With a headline The Carnival is over, the lovely Luma de Oliveira bares her body for all to view!
the Edinburgh Festival has a new Eric and Ernie act
The Scotland Edition sports section covers cricket. With some quite breathtaking images and comment on cricket in England, the Sport pages headline with England slain by Lyon King. Hollywood perhaps or just the Aussies?
In other parts of the paper we read that Richard Wilson is gay and will only say I don’t believe it for charity, the Edinburgh Festival has a new Eric and Ernie act, and Roger Bushell was working for British Military Intelligence in Prague during 1942.
If you’ve ever seen The Great Escape you will, of course, know that Roger, AKA Big X, was shot dead by the Gestapo following a mass break out from Stalag Luft III during the Second World War. The Times, perhaps in a re-run of the Hitler Diaries fiasco, will be serialising a new book by Simon Pearson about the role Roger Bushell might just have played in the assassination of the acting Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia almost 70 years ago.
Damian Whitworth has penned the helpful lines, ‘Pearson writes that it is not possible to say that Bushell was involved in the plot, but establishing that he was among Prague’s resistance fighters at the time places him tantalisingly close’.
The Times Saturday Scotland Edition is a good read. On a scale of one to ten stars I think a score of six might be appropriate. Of course I am, as always, open to suggestions.
Next week in Something for the Weekend Sir? I will be taking a look at one of Scotland’s oldest family newspapers, The Sunday Post, the paper we prefer to send to friends around the globe rather than read.
‘Something for the weekend sir?’ is, of course, what local barbers used to ask customers in the days before discrete prophylactic services became available via the internet.
The Aberdeen Voice has received a letter from a Mr I. Aymin, a retired ostrich baron from the small town of Aberdeen in the Cambedoo Mountains in South Africa. As it is our stated policy to represent the people of Aberdeen regardless of race, creed, colour, religion or apparently, geography, we have decided (albeit with some misgivings) to publish his message as requested.
Hello, My fellow Aberdeensians!
Since retiring from the large poultry business following a severe head-kicking from a rogue bird, I have been taking a keen interest in the many ‘Aberdeens’ around the world (32 at last count).
As a form of remedial neurological therapy, I can heartily recommend it.
Thanks to our wonderful new internet service (admittedly intermittent), coupled with it’s (let us be truthful) unreliable translation software, I have become aware of your city’s gallant attempt to be named ‘City of Couture 2017’ and feel I should show my whole-hearted support for our sister city.
I have to admire this brave move on the part of your tribal elders since, having looked at street scenes of your Aberdeen, the majority of citizens seem to be dressed by Primark or JLM Sports. This, however, only serves to reinforce the respect I have for the people of Scotland.
Before my family moved here from Uganda my great-uncle President Idi often spoke of the time he spent in your beautiful land while receiving the military training he later put to such good use.
Indeed he so admired the pluck of a small country seeking independence that he offered himself to be crowned King of Scotland. (You missed a trick there, you Scotties, instead of resenting the English for all these years; you could have been eating them!).
I must apologise for that digression – my mind wanders, my head aches and I often find that I have been ‘napping’ unknowingly. That damned bird!
On refreshing my internet link I find that your fair city is hoping to be named ‘City of Cutlery 2017’.
I fear you will face stiff opposition from Sheffield! (I see the ostrich hoof coming at me in my dreams!)
Looking again at pictures of all the new and planned architecture of your city – the office buildings, hotels and shopping malls – I have little doubt that you will be successful and you shall indeed be named ‘City of Clutter 2017’.
– Best Wishes, I Aymin (rtd.)
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With thanks to Stuart Maltman, Secretary, Aberdeen SPSC.
Mahmoud Sarsak is to speak at a meeting of Aberdeen Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) At the Quaker Meeting House on Friday
Mahmoud Sarsak was a member of the Palestinian national football team who was seized by Israeli troops, held without charge and tortured over many weeks in Israel’s notorious prison system.
After three years, i.e. six ‘democratic and lawful’ periods of six months imprisonment without trial or charge, Mahmoud went on hunger strike to demand that he be given prisoner-of-war status since he was being detained under Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law.
He refused to accept exile to Norway as a condition for his release and, near death at half his usual body weight, Israel released him unconditionally.
Aberdeen SPSC will be hosting Mahmoud at the Quaker Meeting House where he will be raising awareness of Israeli’s war against Palestinian football, the torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s gulag, and the role of multi-national G4S in running parts of Israel’s illegal programme.
He will also be raising the cases of two players of the Palestinian national football team, Omar Abu Rouis and Mohammed Nemer who have been imprisoned for over a year now in Israel’s dungeons without any trial or charges being levelled against them.