organization:un court

  • Call immigrant detention centers what they really are: concentration camps

    If you were paying close attention last week, you might have spotted a pattern in the news. Peeking out from behind the breathless coverage of the Trump family’s tuxedoed trip to London was a spate of deaths of immigrants in U.S. custody: Johana Medina Léon, a 25-year-old transgender asylum seeker; an unnamed 33-year-old Salvadoran man; and a 40-year-old woman from Honduras.

    Photos from a Border Patrol processing center in El Paso showed people herded so tightly into cells that they had to stand on toilets to breathe. Memos surfaced by journalist Ken Klippenstein revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s failure to provide medical care was responsible for suicides and other deaths of detainees. These followed another report that showed that thousands of detainees are being brutally held in isolation cells just for being transgender or mentally ill.

    Also last week, the Trump administration cut funding for classes, recreation and legal aid at detention centers holding minors — which were likened to “summer camps” by a senior ICE official last year. And there was the revelation that months after being torn from their parents’ arms, 37 children were locked in vans for up to 39 hours in the parking lot of a detention center outside Port Isabel, Texas. In the last year, at least seven migrant children have died in federal custody.

    Preventing mass outrage at a system like this takes work. Certainly it helps that the news media covers these horrors intermittently rather than as snowballing proof of a racist, lawless administration. But most of all, authorities prevail when the places where people are being tortured and left to die stay hidden, misleadingly named and far from prying eyes.

    There’s a name for that kind of system. They’re called concentration camps. You might balk at my use of the term. That’s good — it’s something to be balked at.

    The goal of concentration camps has always been to be ignored. The German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, who was imprisoned by the Gestapo and interned in a French camp, wrote a few years afterward about the different levels of concentration camps. Extermination camps were the most extreme; others were just about getting “undesirable elements … out of the way.” All had one thing in common: “The human masses sealed off in them are treated as if they no longer existed, as if what happened to them were no longer of interest to anybody, as if they were already dead.”

    Euphemisms play a big role in that forgetting. The term “concentration camp” is itself a euphemism. It was invented by a Spanish official to paper over his relocation of millions of rural families into squalid garrison towns where they would starve during Cuba’s 1895 independence war. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Japanese Americans into prisons during World War II, he initially called them concentration camps. Americans ended up using more benign names, like “Manzanar Relocation Center.”

    Even the Nazis’ camps started out small, housing criminals, Communists and opponents of the regime. It took five years to begin the mass detention of Jews. It took eight, and the outbreak of a world war, for the first extermination camps to open. Even then, the Nazis had to keep lying to distract attention, claiming Jews were merely being resettled to remote work sites. That’s what the famous signs — Arbeit Macht Frei, or “Work Sets You Free” — were about.

    Subterfuge doesn’t always work. A year ago, Americans accidentally became aware that the Trump administration had adopted (and lied about) a policy of ripping families apart at the border. The flurry of attention was thanks to the viral conflation of two separate but related stories: the family-separation order and bureaucrats’ admission that they’d been unable to locate thousands of migrant children who’d been placed with sponsors after crossing the border alone.

    Trump shoved that easily down the memory hole. He dragged his heels a bit, then agreed to a new policy: throwing whole families into camps together. Political reporters posed irrelevant questions, like whether President Obama had been just as bad, and what it meant for the midterms. Then they moved on.

    It is important to note that Trump’s aides have built this system of racist terror on something that has existed for a long time. Several camps opened under Obama, and as president he deported millions of people.

    But Trump’s game is different. It certainly isn’t about negotiating immigration reform with Congress. Trump has made it clear that he wants to stifle all non-white immigration, period. His mass arrests, iceboxes and dog cages are part of an explicitly nationalist project to put the country under the control of the right kind of white people.

    As a Republican National Committee report noted in 2013: “The nation’s demographic changes add to the urgency of recognizing how precarious our position has become.” The Trump administration’s attempt to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census was also just revealed to have been a plot to disadvantage political opponents and boost “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” all along.

    That’s why this isn’t just a crisis facing immigrants. When a leader puts people in camps to stay in power, history shows that he doesn’t usually stop with the first group he detains.

    There are now at least 48,000 people detained in ICE facilities, which a former official told BuzzFeed News “could swell indefinitely.” Customs and Border Protection officials apprehended more than 144,000 people on the Southwest border last month. (The New York Times dutifully reported this as evidence of a “dramatic surge in border crossings,” rather than what it was: The administration using its own surge of arrests to justify the rest of its policies.)

    If we call them what they are — a growing system of American concentration camps — we will be more likely to give them the attention they deserve. We need to know their names: Port Isabel, Dilley, Adelanto, Hutto and on and on. With constant, unrelenting attention, it is possible we might alleviate the plight of the people inside, and stop the crisis from getting worse. Maybe people won’t be able to disappear so easily into the iceboxes. Maybe it will be harder for authorities to lie about children’s deaths.

    Maybe Trump’s concentration camps will be the first thing we think of when we see him scowling on TV.

    The only other option is to leave it up to those in power to decide what’s next. That’s a calculated risk. As Andrea Pitzer, author of “One Long Night,” one of the most comprehensive books on the history of concentration camps, recently noted: “Every country has said their camps are humane and will be different. Trump is instinctively an authoritarian. He’ll take them as far as he’s allowed to.”

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-katz-immigrant-concentration-camps-20190609-story.html
    #terminologie #vocabulaire #mots #camps #camps_de_concentration #centres_de_détention #détention_administrative #rétention #USA #Etats-Unis
    #cpa_camps

    • ‘Some Suburb of Hell’: America’s New Concentration Camp System

      On Monday, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to US border detention facilities as “concentration camps,” spurring a backlash in which critics accused her of demeaning the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. Debates raged over a label for what is happening along the southern border and grew louder as the week rolled on. But even this back-and-forth over naming the camps has been a recurrent feature in the mass detention of civilians ever since its inception, a history that long predates the Holocaust.

      At the heart of such policy is a question: What does a country owe desperate people whom it does not consider to be its citizens? The twentieth century posed this question to the world just as the shadow of global conflict threatened for the second time in less than three decades. The dominant response was silence, and the doctrine of absolute national sovereignty meant that what a state did to people under its control, within its borders, was nobody else’s business. After the harrowing toll of the Holocaust with the murder of millions, the world revisited its answer, deciding that perhaps something was owed to those in mortal danger. From the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians in 1949 to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international community established humanitarian obligations toward the most vulnerable that apply, at least in theory, to all nations.

      The twenty-first century is unraveling that response. Countries are rejecting existing obligations and meeting asylum seekers with walls and fences, from detainees fleeing persecution who were sent by Australia to third-party detention in the brutal offshore camps of Manus and Nauru to razor-wire barriers blocking Syrian refugees from entering Hungary. While some nations, such as Germany, wrestle with how to integrate refugees into their labor force—more and more have become resistant to letting them in at all. The latest location of this unwinding is along the southern border of the United States.

      So far, American citizens have gotten only glimpses of the conditions in the border camps that have been opened in their name. In the month of May, Customs and Border Protection reported a total of 132,887 migrants who were apprehended or turned themselves in between ports of entry along the southwest border, an increase of 34 percent from April alone. Upon apprehension, these migrants are temporarily detained by Border Patrol, and once their claims are processed, they are either released or handed over to ICE for longer-term detention. Yet Border Patrol itself is currently holding about 15,000 people, nearly four times what government officials consider to be this enforcement arm’s detention capacity.

      On June 12, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that Fort Sill, an Army post that hosted a World War II internment camp for detainees of Japanese descent, will now be repurposed to detain migrant children. In total, HHS reports that it is currently holding some 12,000 minors. Current law limits detention of minors to twenty days, though Senator Lindsey Graham has proposed expanding the court-ordered limit to 100 days. Since the post is on federal land, it will be exempt from state child welfare inspections.

      In addition to the total of detainees held by Border Patrol, an even higher number is detained at centers around the country by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency: on a typical day at the beginning of this month, ICE was detaining more than 52,500 migrants. The family separation policy outraged the public in the 2018, but despite legal challenges, it never fully ended. Less publicized have been the deaths of twenty-four adults in ICE custody since the beginning of the Trump administration; in addition, six children between the ages of two and sixteen have died in federal custody over the last several months. It’s not clear whether there have been other deaths that have gone unreported.

      Conditions for detainees have not been improving. At the end of May, a Department of Homeland Security inspector general found nearly 900 migrants at a Texas shelter built for a capacity of 125 people. On June 11, a university professor spotted at least 100 men behind chain-link fences near the Paso del Norte Bridge in El Paso, Texas. Those detainees reported sitting outside for weeks in temperatures that soared above 100 degrees. Taylor Levy, an El Paso immigration lawyer, described going into one facility and finding “a suicidal four-year-old whose face was covered in bloody, self-inflicted scratches… Another young child had to be restrained by his mother because he kept running full-speed into metal lockers. He was covered in bruises.”

      If deciding what to do about the growing numbers of adults and children seeking refuge in the US relies on complex humanitarian policies and international laws, in which most Americans don’t take a deep interest, a simpler question also presents itself: What exactly are these camps that the Trump administration has opened, and where is this program of mass detention headed?

      Even with incomplete information about what’s happening along the border today and what the government plans for these camps, history points to some conclusions about their future. Mass detention without trial earned a new name and a specific identity at the end of the nineteenth century. The labels then adopted for the practice were “reconcentración” and “concentration camps”—places of forced relocation of civilians into detention on the basis of group identity.

      Other kinds of group detention had appeared much earlier in North American history. The US government drove Native Americans from their homelands into prescribed exile, with death and detention in transit camps along the way. Some Spanish mission systems in the Americas had accomplished similar ends by seizing land and pressing indigenous people into forced labor. During the 245 years when slavery was legal in the US, detention was one of its essential features.

      Concentration camps, however, don’t typically result from the theft of land, as happened with Native Americans, or owning human beings in a system of forced labor, as in the slave trade. Exile, theft, and forced labor can come later, but in the beginning, detention itself is usually the point of concentration camps. By the end of the nineteenth century, the mass production of barbed wire and machines guns made this kind of detention possible and practical in ways it never had been before.

      Under Spanish rule in 1896, the governor-general of Cuba instituted camps in order to clear rebel-held regions during an uprising, despite his predecessor’s written refusal “as the representative of a civilized nation, to be the first to give the example of cruelty and intransigence” that such detention would represent. After women and children began dying in vast numbers behind barbed wire because there had been little planning for shelter and even less for food, US President William McKinley made his call to war before Congress. He spoke against the policy of reconcentración, calling it warfare by uncivilized means. “It was extermination,” McKinley said. “The only peace it could beget was that of the wilderness and the grave.” Without full records, the Cuban death toll can only be estimated, but a consensus puts it in the neighborhood of 150,000, more than 10 percent of the island’s prewar population.

      Today, we remember the sinking of the USS Maine as the spark that ignited the Spanish-American War. But war correspondent George Kennan (cousin of the more famous diplomat) believed that “it was the suffering of the reconcentrados, more, perhaps, than any other one thing that brought about the intervention of the United States.” On April 25, 1898, Congress declared war. Two weeks later, US Marines landed at Fisherman’s Point on the windward side of the entrance to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. After a grim, week-long fight, the Marines took the hill. It became a naval base, and the United States has never left that patch of land.

      As part of the larger victory, the US inherited the Philippines. The world’s newest imperial power also inherited a rebellion. Following a massacre of American troops at Balangiga in September 1901, during the third year of the conflict, the US established its own concentration camp system. Detainees, mostly women and children, were forced into squalid conditions that one American soldier described in a letter to a US senator as “some suburb of hell.” In the space of only four months, more than 11,000 Filipinos are believed to have died in these noxious camps.

      Meanwhile, in southern Africa in 1900, the British had opened their own camps during their battle with descendants of Dutch settlers in the second Boer War. British soldiers filled tent cities with Boer women and children, and the military authorities called them refugee camps. Future Prime Minister David Lloyd George took offense at that name, noting in Parliament: “There is no greater delusion in the mind of any man than to apply the term ‘refugee’ to these camps. They are not refugee camps. They are camps of concentration.” Contemporary observers compared them to the Cuban camps, and criticized their deliberate cruelty. The Bishop of Hereford wrote to The Times of London in 1901, asking: “Are we reduced to such a depth of impotence that our Government can do nothing to stop such a holocaust of child-life?”

      Maggoty meat rations and polluted water supplies joined outbreaks of contagious diseases amid crowded and unhealthy conditions in the Boer camps. More than 27,000 detainees are thought to have died there, nearly 80 percent of them children. The British had opened camps for black Africans as well, in which at least 14,000 detainees died—the real number is probably much higher. Aside from protests made by some missionaries, the deaths of indigenous black Africans did not inspire much public outrage. Much of the history of the suffering in these camps has been lost.

      These early experiments with concentration camps took place on the periphery of imperial power, but accounts of them nevertheless made their way into newspapers and reports in many nations. As a result, the very idea of them came to be seen as barbaric. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the first camp systems had all been closed, and concentration camps had nearly vanished as an institution. Within months of the outbreak of World War I, though, they would be resurrected—this time rising not at the margins but in the centers of power. Between 1914 and 1918, camps were constructed on an unprecedented scale across six continents. In their time, these camps were commonly called concentration camps, though today they are often referred to by the more anodyne term “internment.”

      Those World War I detainees were, for the most part, foreigners—or, in legalese, aliens—and recent anti-immigration legislation in several countries had deliberately limited their rights. The Daily Mail denounced aliens left at liberty once they had registered with their local police department, demanding, “Does signing his name take the malice out of a man?” The Scottish Field was more direct, asking, “Do Germans have souls?” That these civilian detainees were no threat to Britain did not keep them from being demonized, shouted at, and spat upon as they were paraded past hostile crowds in cities like London.

      Though a small number of people were shot in riots in these camps, and hunger became a serious issue as the conflict dragged on, World War I internment would present a new, non-lethal face for the camps, normalizing detention. Even after the war, new camps sprang up from Spain to Hungary and Cuba, providing an improvised “solution” for everything from vagrancy to anxieties over the presence of Jewish foreigners.

      Some of these camps were clearly not safe for those interned. Local camps appeared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, after a white mob burned down a black neighborhood and detained African-American survivors. In Bolshevik Russia, the first concentration camps preceded the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 and planted seeds for the brutal Gulag system that became official near the end of the USSR’s first decade. While some kinds of camps were understood to be harsher, after World War I their proliferation did not initially disturb public opinion. They had yet to take on their worst incarnations.

      In 1933, barely more than a month after Hitler was appointed chancellor, the Nazis’ first, impromptu camp opened in the town of Nohra in central Germany to hold political opponents. Detainees at Nohra were allowed to vote at a local precinct in the elections of March 5, 1933, resulting in a surge of Communist ballots in the tiny town. Locking up groups of civilians without trial had become accepted. Only the later realization of the horrors of the Nazi death camps would break the default assumption by governments and the public that concentration camps could and should be a simple way to manage populations seen as a threat.

      However, the staggering death toll of the Nazi extermination camp system—which was created mid-war and stood almost entirely separate from the concentration camps in existence since 1933—led to another result: a strange kind of erasure. In the decades that followed World War II, the term “concentration camp” came to stand only for Auschwitz and other extermination camps. It was no longer applied to the kind of extrajudicial detention it had denoted for generations. The many earlier camps that had made the rise of Auschwitz possible largely vanished from public memory.

      It is not necessary, however, to step back a full century in American history to find camps with links to what is happening on the US border today. Detention at Guantánamo began in the 1990s, when Haitian and Cuban immigrants whom the government wanted to keep out of the United States were housed there in waves over a four-year period—years before the “war on terror” and the US policy of rendition of suspected “enemy combatants” made Camps Delta, X-Ray, and Echo notorious. Tens of thousands of Haitians fleeing instability at home were picked up at sea and diverted to the Cuban base, to limit their legal right to apply for asylum. The court cases and battles over the suffering of those detainees ended up setting the stage for what Guantánamo would become after September 11, 2001.

      In one case, a federal court ruled that it did have jurisdiction over the base, but the government agreed to release the Haitians who were part of the lawsuit in exchange for keeping that ruling off the books. A ruling in a second case would assert that the courts did not have jurisdiction. Absent the prior case, the latter stood on its own as precedent. Leaving Guantánamo in this gray area made it an ideal site for extrajudicial detention and torture after the twin towers fell.

      This process of normalization, when a bad camp becomes much more dangerous, is not unusual. Today’s border camps are a crueler reflection of long-term policies—some challenged in court—that earlier presidents had enacted. Prior administrations own a share of the responsibility for today’s harsh practices, but the policies in place today are also accompanied by a shameless willingness to publicly target a vulnerable population in increasingly dangerous ways.

      I visited Guantánamo twice in 2015, sitting in the courtroom for pretrial hearings and touring the medical facility, the library, and all the old abandoned detention sites, as well as newly built ones, open to the media—from the kennel-style cages of Camp X-Ray rotting to ruin in the damp heat to the modern jailhouse facilities of Camp 6. Seeing all this in person made clear to me how vast the architecture of detention had become, how entrenched it was, and how hard it would be to close.

      Without a significant government effort to reverse direction, conditions in every camp system tend to deteriorate over time. Governments rarely make that kind of effort on behalf of people they are willing to lock up without trial in the first place. And history shows that legislatures do not close camps against the will of an executive.

      Just a few years ago there might have been more potential for change spurred by the judicial branch of our democracy, but this Supreme Court is inclined toward deference to executive power, even, it appears, if that power is abused. It seems unlikely this Court will intervene to end the new border camp system; indeed, the justices are far more likely to institutionalize it by half-measures, as happened with Guantánamo. The Korematsu case, in which the Supreme Court upheld Japanese-American internment (a ruling only rescinded last year), relied on the suppression of evidence by the solicitor general. Americans today can have little confidence that this administration would behave any more scrupulously when defending its detention policy.

      What kind of conditions can we expect to develop in these border camps? The longer a camp system stays open, the more likely it is that vital things will go wrong: detainees will contract contagious diseases and suffer from malnutrition and mental illness. We have already seen that current detention practices have resulted in children and adults succumbing to influenza, staph infections, and sepsis. The US is now poised to inflict harm on tens of thousands more, perhaps hundreds of thousands more.

      Along with such inevitable consequences, every significant camp system has introduced new horrors of its own, crises that were unforeseen when that system was opened. We have yet to discover what those will be for these American border camps. But they will happen. Every country thinks it can do detention better when it starts these projects. But no good way to conduct mass indefinite detention has yet been devised; the system always degrades.

      When, in 1940, Margarete Buber-Neumann was transferred from the Soviet Gulag at Karaganda to the camp for women at Ravensbrück (in an exchange enabled by the Nazi–Soviet Pact), she came from near-starvation conditions in the USSR and was amazed at the cleanliness and order of the Nazi camp. New arrivals were issued clothing, bedding, and silverware, and given fresh porridge, fruit, sausage, and jam to eat. Although the Nazi camps were already punitive, order-obsessed monstrosities, the wartime overcrowding that would soon overtake them had not yet made daily life a thing of constant suffering and squalor. The death camps were still two years away.

      The United States now has a vast and growing camp system. It is starting out with gruesome overcrowding and inadequate healthcare, and because of budget restrictions, has already taken steps to cut services to juvenile detainees. The US Office of Refugee Resettlement says that the mounting number of children arriving unaccompanied is forcing it to use military bases and other sites that it prefers to avoid, and that establishing these camps is a temporary measure. But without oversight from state child welfare inspectors, the possibilities for neglect and abuse are alarming. And without any knowledge of how many asylum-seekers are coming in the future, federal administrators are likely to find themselves boxed in to managing detention on military sites permanently.

      President Trump and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller appear to have purged the Department of Homeland Security of most internal opposition to their anti-immigrant policies. In doing so, that have removed even those sympathetic to the general approach taken by the White House, such as former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in order to escalate the militarization of the border and expand irregular detention in more systematic and punitive ways. This kind of power struggle or purge in the early years of a camp system is typical.

      The disbanding of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police, in February 1922 and the transfer of its commander, Felix Dzerzhinsky, to head up an agency with control over only two prisons offered a hint of an alternate future in which extrajudicial detention would not play a central role in the fledgling Soviet republic. But Dzerzhinsky managed to keep control over the “special camps” in his new position, paving the way for the emergence of a camp-centered police state. In pre-war Germany in the mid-1930s, Himmler’s struggle to consolidate power from rivals eventually led him to make camps central to Nazi strategy. When the hardliners win, as they appear to have in the US, conditions tend to worsen significantly.

      Is it possible this growth in the camp system will be temporary and the improvised border camps will soon close? In theory, yes. But the longer they remain open, the less likely they are to vanish. When I visited the camps for Rohingya Muslims a year before the large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing began, many observers appeared to be confusing the possible and the probable. It was possible that the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi would sweep into office in free elections and begin making changes. It was possible that full democracy would come to all the residents of Myanmar, even though the government had stripped the Rohingya of the last vestiges of their citizenship. These hopes proved to be misplaced. Once there are concentration camps, it is always probable that things will get worse.

      The Philippines, Japanese-American internment, Guantánamo… we can consider the fine points of how the current border camps evoke past US systems, and we can see how the arc of camp history reveals the likelihood that the suffering we’re currently inflicting will be multiplied exponentially. But we can also simply look at what we’re doing right now, shoving bodies into “dog pound”-style detention pens, “iceboxes,” and standing room-only spaces. We can look at young children in custody who have become suicidal. How much more historical awareness do we really need?

      https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/06/21/some-suburb-of-hell-americas-new-concentration-camp-system

    • #Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez engage le bras de fer avec la politique migratoire de Donald Trump

      L’élue de New York a qualifié les camps de rétention pour migrants érigés à la frontière sud des Etats-Unis de « camps de concentration ».

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2019/06/19/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-engage-le-bras-de-fer-avec-la-politique-migratoire-

  • Taxi loan abuses part of a broader pattern in New York | American Banker
    https://www.americanbanker.com/opinion/taxi-loan-abuses-part-of-a-broader-pattern-in-new-york

    An investigation by The New York Times earlier this week suggested that the massive collapse in New York City taxi medallion prices since 2014 was not primarily the result of new competition from Uber and Lyft. Instead it was the inevitable outcome of unsustainable lending practices.

    Low-paid cab drivers who dreamed of becoming their own bosses took out loans that required them to pay $1 million or more. The payments often covered only the interest that borrowers owed, and interest rates spiked if the loans were not repaid within a few years. From the lenders’ standpoint, the loans only made sense as long as medallion prices continued to rise.

    Cabbies, many of them immigrants, suffered harsh consequences after taking out loans with terms they did not fully understand.

    Cab drivers who dreamed of becoming their own bosses took out loans that required them to pay $1 million or more.

    Since the articles were published, various politicians have floated potential responses that are narrowly targeted at taxi medallion lending.

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a probe of taxi loan brokers. Other local officials suggested that the city should buy onerous loans at discounted prices and then forgive much of the debt.

    Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., asked the National Credit Union Administration to conduct a review of supervisory practices at institutions that engage in taxi medallion lending.

    But taxi drivers are not the only businesspeople who regularly get deceived by unscrupulous lenders. So do contractors, restaurateurs and the owners of various other kinds of struggling small businesses. Many high-cost business lenders are based in New York, where unusually favorable laws provide a haven to these companies.

    Some aspects of the New York City taxi loan market were unique. For example, local officials had a vested interest in keep medallion prices high, since the city was generating revenue from the proceeds of sales. Indeed, the Times showed that government officials enabled lending that has put many borrowers in dire straits.

    “The City of New York, more or less, is our partner,” Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial, said in a 2011 interview.

    But in other ways, the loans to cab drivers resembled deceptively marketed loans that have ensnared a wide variety of cash-strapped small-business owners.

    Because the New York City taxi loans were classified as business loans, rather than consumer loans, they did not have to include standard disclosures regarding interest rates. They often included large fees and terms that unsophisticated borrowers did not understand.

    And according to the Times, some taxi medallion lenders used a tool that under New York law offers a uniquely powerful way to collect on business debt. Lenders in the Empire State can require applicants for small-business loans to sign a document called a confession of judgment, which prevents them from contesting any subsequent allegation that they have fallen behind on their payments.

    A Bloomberg News investigation last year found that merchant cash advance companies, which offer high-cost financing to small businesses across the country, have at times abused New York’s court system by forging documents and lying about how much money they are owed in order to obtain speedy judgments that cannot be contested by the borrower.

    Small businesses that use merchant cash advances are required to make daily payments based on a percentage of their daily revenue. The merchant cash advance firms avoid complying with New York’s strict usury rules by classifying their financing not as a loan, but rather as a purchase of the company’s future credit card receipts.

    The Bloomberg articles also chronicled the role of New York City marshals — mayoral appointees who enforce the court judgments, get a cut of the proceeds, and have been accused in some cases of improperly seeking to collect money outside of the city.

    As evidence of business lending abuses in New York has mounted, little change has occurred at the state level, though there does appear to be a growing appetite for reform.

    Last year, the New York State Department of Financial Services argued in a report that borrower protection laws and regulations should apply equally to all consumer lending and small-business lending activities.

    The Bloomberg investigation reportedly sparked probes by the New York attorney general’s office and the Manhattan district attorney’s office. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that the Federal Trade Commission has also opened an investigation of potentially unfair or deceptive practices in the merchant cash advance industry.

    The loan practices that hurt taxi drivers are part of a broader pattern in New York, which has become the nation’s capital for predatory business lending. It remains to be seen whether state lawmakers and regulators will connect the dots.

    Bankshot is American Banker’s column for real-time analysis of today’s news.

    #USA #New_York #Taxi #Betrug #Ausbeutung

    • European Border and Coast Guard: Launch of first ever joint operation outside the EU

      Today, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, in cooperation with the Albanian authorities, is launching the first ever joint operation on the territory of a neighbouring non-EU country. As of 22 May, teams from the Agency will be deployed together with Albanian border guards at the Greek-Albanian border to strengthen border management and enhance security at the EU’s external borders, in full agreement with all concerned countries. This operation marks a new phase for border cooperation between the EU and its Western Balkan partners, and is yet another step towards the full operationalisation of the Agency.

      The launch event is taking place in Tirana, Albania, in the presence of Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Edi Rama, Albanian Prime Minister and Sandër Lleshaj, Albanian Interior Minister.

      Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: "With the first ever deployment of European Border and Coast Guard teams outside of the EU, we are opening an entirely new chapter in our cooperation on migration and border management with Albania and with the whole Western Balkan region. This is a real game changer and a truly historical step, bringing this region closer to the EU by working together in a coordinated and mutually supportive way on shared challenges such as better managing migration and protecting our common borders.”

      Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, said: “Today we mark a milestone for our agency and the wider cooperation between the European Union and Albania. We are launching the first fully fledged joint operation outside the European Union to support Albania in border control and tackling cross-border crime.”

      While Albania remains ultimately responsible for the protection of its borders, the European Border and Coast Guard is able to lend both technical and operational support and assistance. The European Border and Coast Guard teams will be able to support the Albanian border guards in performing border checks at crossing points, for example, and preventing unauthorised entries. All operations and deployments at the Albanian border with Greece will be conducted in full agreement with both the Albanian and Greek authorities.

      At the start of the operation, the Agency will be deploying 50 officers, 16 patrol cars and 1 thermo-vision van from 12 EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland and Slovenia) to support Albania in border control and tackling cross-border crime.

      Strengthened cooperation between priority third countries and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will contribute to the better management of irregular migration, further enhance security at the EU’s external borders and strengthen the Agency’s ability to act in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood, while bringing that neighbourhood closer to the EU.

      http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-2591_en.htm
      #externalisation

    • Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos in Albania at the official launch of first ever joint operation outside the EU

      Ladies and Gentlemen,

      We are here today to celebrate an important achievement and a milestone, both for Albania and for the EU.

      Only six months ago, here in Tirana, the EU signed the status agreement with Albania on cooperation on border management between Albania and the European Border and Coast Guard. This agreement, that entered into force three weeks ago, was the first agreement ever of its kind with a neighbouring country.

      Today, we will send off the joint European Border and Coast Guard Teams to be deployed as of tomorrow for the first time in a non-EU Member State. This does not only mark a new phase for border cooperation between the EU and Western Balkan partners, it is also yet another step towards the full operationalisation of the Agency.

      The only way to effectively address migration and security challenges we are facing today and those we may be confronted with in the years to come is by working closer together, as neighbours and as partners. What happens in Albania and the Western Balkans affects the European Union, and the other way around.

      Joint approach to border management is a key part of our overall approach to managing migration. It allows us to show to our citizens that their security is at the top of our concerns. But effective partnership in ensuring orderly migration also enables us, as Europe, to remain a place where those in need of protection can find shelter.

      Albania is the first country in the Western Balkans with whom the EU is moving forward with this new important chapter in our joint co-operation on border management.

      This can be a source of pride for both Albania and the EU and an important step that brings us closer together.

      While the overall situation along the Western Balkans route remains stable with continuously low levels of arrivals - it is in fact like night and day when compared to three years ago - we need to remain vigilant.

      The Status Agreement will help us in this effort. It expands the scale of practical, operational cooperation between the EU and Albania and hopefully soon with the rest of the Western Balkan region.

      These are important elements of our co-operation, also in view of the continued implementation of the requirements under the visa liberalisation agreement. Visa-free travel is a great achievement, which brings benefits to all sides and should be safeguarded.

      Together with Albanian border guards, European Border and Coast Guard teams will be able to perform border checks at crossing points and perform border surveillance to prevent unauthorized border crossings and counter cross-border criminality.

      But, let me be clear, Albania remains ultimately responsible for the protection of its borders. European Border and Coast Guard Teams may only perform tasks and exercise powers in the Albanian territory under instructions from and, as a general rule, in the presence of border guards of the Republic of Albania.

      Dear Friends,

      When it comes to protecting our borders, ensuring our security and managing migration, the challenges we face are common, and so must be our response.

      The European Border and Coast Guard Status Agreement and its implementation will allow us to better work together in all these areas. I hope that these agreements can be finalised also with other Western Balkans partners as soon as possible.

      I wish to thank Prime Minister Edi Rama, the Albanian authorities, and the Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Fabrice Leggeri and his team for their close cooperation in bringing this milestone achievement to life. I also want to thank all Member States who have contributed with staff and the personnel who will be part of this first deployment of European Border and Coast Guard teams in a neighbouring country.

      With just a few days to go before the European Elections, the need for a more united and stronger European family is more important than ever. We firmly believe that a key priority is to have strong relations with close neighbours, based on a clear balance of rights and obligations – but above all, on genuine partnership. This includes you, fellow Albanians.

      Albania is part of the European family.Our challenges are common. They know no borders. The progress we are witnessing today is another concrete action and proof of our commitment to bring us closer together. To make us stronger.

      http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-19-2668_en.htm

    • Externalisation: Frontex launches first formal operation outside of the EU and deploys to Albania

      The EU has taken a significant, if geographically small, step in the externalisation of its borders. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has launched its first Joint Operation on the territory of a non-EU-Member State, as it begins cooperation with Albania on the border with Greece.

      After the launch of the operation in Tirana on 21 May a deployment of 50 officers, 16 patrol cars and a thermo-vision van started yesterday, 22 May (European Commission, link). Twelve Member States (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland and Slovenia) have contributed to the operation.

      New agreements

      The move follows the entry into force on 1 May this year of a Status Agreement between the EU and Albania on actions carried out by Frontex in that country (pdf). Those actions are made possible by the conclusion of operational plans, which must be agreed between Frontex and the Albanian authorities.

      The Status Agreement with Albania was the first among several similar agreements to be signed between the Agency and Balkan States, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and North Macedonia.

      The nascent operation in Albania will give Frontex team members certain powers, privileges and immunities on Albanian territory, including the use of force in circumstances authorised by Albanian border police and outlined in the operational plan.

      Frontex does not publish operational plans whilst operations (which can be renewed indefinitely) are ongoing, and documents published after the conclusion of operations (usually in response to requests for access to documents) are often heavily-redacted (Ask the EU, link).

      Relevant articles

      Article 4 of the Status Agreement outlines the tasks and powers of members of Frontex teams operating in Albanian territory. This includes the use of force, if it is authorised by both the Frontex team member’s home Member State and the State of Albania, and takes place in the presence of Albanian border guards. However, Albania can authorise team members to use force in their absence.

      Article 6 of the Status Agreement grants Frontex team members immunity from Albanian criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction “in respect of the acts performed in the exercise of their official functions in the course of the actions carried out in accordance with the operational plan”.

      Although a representative of Albania would be informed in the event of an allegation of criminal activity, it would be up to Frontex’s executive director to certify to the court whether the actions in question were performed as part of an official Agency function and in accordance with the Operational Plan. This certification will be binding on the jurisdiction of Albania. Proceedings may only continue against an individual team member if the executive director confirms that their actions were outside the scope of the exercise of official functions.

      Given the closed nature of the operational plans, this grants the executive director wide discretion and ensures little oversight of the accountability of Agency team members. Notably, Article 6 also states that members of teams shall not be obliged to give evidence as witnesses. This immunity does not, however, extend to the jurisdiction of team members’ home Member States, and they may also waive the immunity of the individual under Albanian jurisdiction.

      Right to redress

      These measures of immunity alongside the lack of transparency surrounding documents outlining team members’ official functions and activities (the operational plan) raise concerns regarding access to redress for victims of human rights violations that may occur during operations.

      Human rights organisations have denounced the use of force by Frontex team members, only to have those incidents classified by the Agency as par for the course in their operations. Cases include incidents of firearm use that resulted in serious injury (The Intercept, link), but that was considered to have taken place according to the standard rules of engagement. This opacity has implications for individuals’ right to good administration and to the proper functioning of accountability mechanisms.

      If any damage results from actions that were carried out according to the operational plan, Albania will be held liable. This is the most binding liability outlined by the Status Agreement. Albania may only “request” that compensation be paid by the Member State of the team member responsible, or by the Agency, if acts were committed through gross negligence, wilful misconduct or outside the scope of the official functions of the Agency team or staff member.

      Across the board

      The provisions regarding tasks, powers and immunity in the Status Agreements with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia are all broadly similar, with the exception of Article 6 of the agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This states:

      “Members of the team who are witnesses may be obliged by the competent authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina… to provide evidence in accordance with the procedural law of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

      The Status Agreement with Serbia, an early draft of which did not grant immunity to team members, is now consistent with the Agreement with Albania and includes provisions stating that members of teams shall not be obliged to give evidence as witnesses.

      It includes a further provision that:

      “...members of the team may use weapons only when it is absolutely necessary in self-defence to repel an immediate life-threatening attack against themselves or another person, in accordance with the national legislation of the Republic of Serbia”.

      http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/may/fx-albania-launch.htm

    • La police des frontières extérieures de l’UE s’introduit en Albanie

      Frontex, l’agence chargée des frontières extérieures de l’Union européenne, a lancé mardi en Albanie sa première opération hors du territoire d’un de ses États membres.

      Cette annonce de la Commission européenne intervient quelques jours avant les élections européennes et au moment où la politique migratoire de l’UE est critiquée par les candidats souverainistes, comme le ministre italien de l’Intérieur Matteo Salvini ou le chef de file de la liste française d’extrême droite, Jordan Bardella, qui a récemment qualifié Frontex d’« hôtesse d’accueil pour migrants ».

      Cette opération conjointe en Albanie est « une véritable étape historique rapprochant » les Balkans de l’UE, et témoigne d’une « meilleure gestion de la migration et de la protection de nos frontières communes », a commenté à Tirana le commissaire chargé des migrations, Dimitris Avramopoulos.

      L’Albanie espère convaincre les États membres d’ouvrir des négociations d’adhésion ce printemps, ce qui lui avait été refusé l’an passé. Son premier ministre Edi Rama a salué « un pas très important dans les relations entre l’Albanie et l’Union européenne » et a estimé qu’il « renforçait également la coopération dans le domaine de la sécurité ».

      À partir de 22 mai, Frontex déploiera des équipes conjointes à la frontière grecque avec des agents albanais.

      La Commission européenne a passé des accords semblables avec la Macédoine du Nord, la Serbie, le Monténégro et la Bosnie-Herzégovine, qui devraient également entrer en vigueur.

      Tous ces pays sont sur une des « routes des Balkans », qui sont toujours empruntées clandestinement par des milliers de personnes en route vers l’Union européenne, même si le flux n’est en rien comparable avec les centaines de milliers de migrants qui ont transité par la région en quelques mois jusqu’à la fermeture des frontières par les pays de l’UE début 2016.

      Ce type d’accord « contribuera à l’amélioration de la gestion de la migration clandestine, renforcera la sécurité aux frontières extérieures de l’UE et consolidera la capacité de l’agence à agir dans le voisinage immédiat de l’UE, tout en rapprochant de l’UE les pays voisins concernés », selon un communiqué de la Commission.

      Pour éviter de revivre le chaos de 2015, l’Union a acté un renforcement considérable de Frontex. Elle disposera notamment d’ici 2027 d’un contingent de 10 000 garde-frontières et garde-côtes pour aider des pays débordés.


      https://www.lapresse.ca/international/europe/201905/21/01-5226931-la-police-des-frontieres-exterieures-de-lue-sintroduit-en-albani

    • European Border and Coast Guard Agency began to patrol alongside the Albanian-Greek border in late May (https://www.bilten.org/?p=28118). Similar agreements have recently been concluded with Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina but Albania is the first country to start implementing programs aimed at blocking refugees entering the EU. Bilten states that Frontex employees can carry arms and fight “against any kind of crime, from” illegal migration “to theft of a car or drug trafficking”. Frontex’s mission is not time-bound, i.e. it depends on the EU’s need. The Albanian authorities see it as a step forward to their membership in the Union.

      Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa dobrodosli, le 10.06.2019

      L’article original:
      Što Frontex radi u Albaniji?

      Nakon što je Europska unija službeno zatvorila “balkansku migrantsku rutu”, očajni ljudi počeli su tražiti nove puteve. Jedan od njih prolazi kroz Albaniju, a tamošnja se vlada odrekla kontrole nad vlastitom granicom u nadi da će time udobrovoljiti unijske dužnosnike.

      Agencija za europsku graničnu i obalnu stražu, Frontex, počela je krajem prošlog mjeseca patrolirati uz albansko-grčku granicu. Već prvog dana, raspoređeno je pedesetak policajaca iz različitih zemalja članica EU koji bi se u suradnji s albanskim graničarima trebali boriti protiv “ilegalne migracije”. Iako je slične dogovore Unija nedavno sklopila sa zemljama poput Srbije, Sjeverne Makedonije, Crne Gore te Bosne i Hercegovine – a sve s ciljem blokiranja mogućnosti izbjeglica da uđu na područje EU – Albanija je prva zemlja u kojoj je počela provedba tog programa. Zaposlenici Frontexa ne samo da smiju nositi oružje, već imaju i dozvolu da se bore protiv bilo koje vrste kriminala, od “ilegalnih migracija” do krađe automobila ili trgovine drogom. Također, njihova misija nije vremenski ograničena, što znači da će Frontexovi zaposlenici patrolirati s albanske strane granice dok god to Unija smatra potrebnim.

      Unatoč nekim marginalnim glasovima koji su se žalili zbog kršenja nacionalne suverenosti prepuštanjem kontrole nad granicom stranim trupama, javnost je reagirala bilo potpunom nezainteresiranošću ili čak blagom potporom sporazumu koji bi tobože trebao pomoći Albaniji da uđe u Europsku uniju. S puno entuzijazma, lokalni su se mediji hvalili kako su u prva četiri dana Frontexovi zaposlenici već ulovili 92 “ilegalna migranta”. No to nije prvo, a ni najozbiljnije predavanje kontrole nad granicom koje je poduzela albanska vlada. Još od kasnih 1990-ih i ranih 2000-ih jadranskim i jonskim teritorijalnim vodama Republike Albanije patrolira talijanska Guardia di Finanza. Tih se godina albanska obala često koristila kao most prema Italiji preko kojeg je prelazila većina migranata azijskog porijekla, ne samo zbog blizine južne Italije, već i zbog slabosti državnih aparata tijekom goleme krize 1997. i 1998. godine.

      Helikopteri Guardije di Finanza također kontroliraju albansko nebo u potrazi za poljima kanabisa i to sve u suradnji s lokalnom državnom birokracijom koja je sama dijelom suradnica dilera, a dijelom nesposobna da im se suprotstavi. No posljednjih godina, zbog toga što su druge rute zatvorene, sve veći broj ljudi počeo se kretati iz Grčke preko Albanije, Crne Gore i BiH prema zemljama EU. Prema Međunarodnoj organizaciji za migracije, granicu je prešlo oko 18 tisuća ljudi, uglavnom iz Sirije, Pakistana i Iraka. To predstavlja povećanje od sedam puta u odnosu na godinu ranije. Tek manji dio tih ljudi je ulovljen zbog nedostatka kapaciteta granične kontrole ili pak potpune indiferencije prema ljudima kojima siromašna zemlja poput Albanije nikada neće biti destinacija.
      Tranzitna zemlja

      Oni koje ulove smješteni su u prihvatnom centru blizu Tirane, ali odatle im je relativno jednostavno pobjeći i nastaviti put dalje. Dio njih službeno je zatražio azil u Albaniji, ali to ne znači da će se dulje zadržati u zemlji. Ipak, očekuje se da će ubuduće albanske institucije biti znatno agresivnije u politici repatrijacije migranata. U tome će se susretati s brojnim pravnim i administrativnim problemima: kako objašnjavaju lokalni stručnjaci za migracije, Albanija sa zemljama iz kojih dolazi većina migranata – poput Sirije, Pakistana, Iraka i Afganistana – uopće nema diplomatske odnose niti pravne predstavnike u tim zemljama. Zbog toga je koordiniranje procesa repatrijacije gotovo nemoguće. Također, iako sporazum o repatrijaciji postoji s Grčkoj, njime je predviđeno da se u tu zemlju vraćaju samo oni za koje se može dokazati da su iz nje došli, a većina migranata koji dođu iz Grčke nastoji sakriti svaki trag svog boravka u toj zemlji.

      U takvoj situaciji, čini se izvjesnim da će Albanija biti zemlja u kojoj će sve veći broj ljudi zapeti na neodređeno vrijeme. Prije nekih godinu i pol dana, izbila je javna panika s dosta rasističkih tonova. Nakon jednog nespretnog intervjua vladinog dužnosnika njemačkom mediju proširile su se glasine da će se u Albaniju naseliti šesto tisuća Sirijaca. Brojka je već na prvi pogled astronomska s obzirom na to da je stanovništvo zemlje oko tri milijuna ljudi, ali teorije zavjere se obično šire kao požar. Neki od drugorazrednih političara čak su pozvali na oružanu borbu ako dođu Sirijci. No ta je panika zapravo brzo prošla, ali tek nakon što je vlada obećala da neće primiti više izbjeglica od onog broja koji bude određen raspodjelom prema dogovoru u Uniji. Otad zapravo nema nekog osobitog antimigrantskog raspoloženja u javnosti, unatoč tome što tisuće ljudi prolazi kroz zemlju.
      Europski san

      Odnos je uglavnom onaj indiferencije. Tome pridonosi nekoliko stvari: činjenica da je gotovo trećina stanovništva Albanije također odselila u zemlje Unije,1 zatim to što ne postoje neke vjerske i ultranacionalističke stranke, ali najviše to što nitko od migranata nema nikakvu namjeru ostati u zemlji. No zašto je albanska vlada tako nestrpljiva da preda kontrolu granice i suverenitet, odnosno zašto je premijer Edi Rama izgledao tako entuzijastično prilikom ceremonije s Dimitrisom Avramopulosom, europskim povjerenikom za migracije, unutrašnje poslove i državljanstvo? Vlada se nada da će to ubrzati njezin put prema članstvu u Europskoj uniji. Posljednjih pet godina provela je čekajući otvaranje pristupnih pregovora, a predavanje kontrole nad granicom vidi kao još jednu ilustraciju svoje pripadnosti Uniji.

      S druge strane, stalna politička kriza koju su izazvali studentski protesti u prosincu 2018., te kasnije bojkot parlamenta i lokalnih izbora od strane opozicijskih stranaka, stavlja neprestani pritisak na vladu. Očajnički treba pozitivan znak iz EU jer vodi političku i ideološku borbu protiv opozicije oko toga tko je autentičniji kulturni i politički predstavnik europejstva. Vlada naziva opoziciju i njezine nasilne prosvjede antieuropskima, dok opozicija optužuje vladu da svojom korupcijom i povezanošću s organiziranim kriminalom radi protiv europskih želja stanovništva. Prije nekoliko dana, Komisija je predložila početak pristupnih pregovora s Albanijom, no Europsko vijeće je to koje ima zadnju riječ. Očekuje se kako će sve ovisiti o toj odluci. Ideja Europe jedno je od čvorišta vladajuće ideologije koja se desetljećima gradi kao antipod komunizmu i Orijentu te historijska destinacija kojoj Albanci stoljećima teže.

      Neoliberalna rekonstrukcija ekonomije i društva gotovo je uvijek legitimirana tvrdnjama kako su to nužni – iako bolni – koraci prema integraciji u Europsku uniju. Uspješnost ove ideologije ilustrira činjenica da otprilike 90% ispitanih u različitim studijama podržava Albansku integraciju u EU. U toj situaciji ne čudi ni odnos prema Frontexu.

      https://www.bilten.org/?p=28118

  • James Charles, Tati Westbrook, and the Future of Beauty YouTube | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/story/james-charles-tati-westbrook-youtube-loyalty

    Over the past week, beauty YouTuber James Charles has been accused of betrayal, Coachella-based snobbery, and promotion of the wrong hair vitamin. He has been pronounced “canceled” by a jury of YouTube gossip channels, the shady Snapchat comments of his beauty guru peers, and, bluntly, by the hashtag #jamescharlesiscanceled. As punishment, culture-conscious former fans are setting their James Charles-branded makeup on fire. In the court of internet culture, destruction of property is a sentence—not a crime.

    On TikTok, the preferred social media platform of many Youths, setting James Charles’ merchandize ablaze has become its own meme, in much the same way destroying Gillette razors and Nike sneakers became online phenomenons when customers became disgruntled with those companies’ actions. From a strictly monetary point of view, it’s a rather poor form of protest—the only wallet they’re hurting is their own, and often the meme just becomes a form of free advertising for the person or organization they’re attempting to smear. But while these scandals and the memes they’ve spawned are deeply embroiled in internet capitalism, they’re not actually about money.

    Loyalty politics have consumed influencer culture. The spark of this scandal—the end of Charles’ friendship with Westbrook—is ultimately a matter of betrayal, and many fans are reacting as though Charles’ alleged misconduct is a betrayal of them personally. Part of that is the result of internet capitalism: young, savvy fans like Charles’ know that their loyal viewership is ultimately what gives Charles his influence and therefore pays his bills. Just like Westbrook, fans have given Charles both money and (money-making) time, and he hasn’t upheld his side of the contract.

    What’s curious, though, is how little that contract has to do with what Charles is actually selling: makeup and beauty advice. These days, subscribing to James Charles doesn’t just mean you like his makeup looks, it means you endorse him as a person and condone his behavior online and off. People take the influencers you follow as a kind of character reference, and an indicator of your politics. For other influencers, failure to sever ties after a cancellation is an internet culture faux pas that can create a scandal of its own, which is why influencers from Jeffree Star to the Kardashians have unfollowed Charles on social media, and why internet sleuths bothered to check whether they had in the first place. That anxiousness has bled over to fans. It’s not enough to quietly unsubscribe. You have to publicly set any evidence of your former allegiances aflame.

    #Influenceurs #Beauté #Culture_numérique #Meme_culture

  • ‘I’m Really Opening Myself Up’ : Chelsea Manning Signs Book Deal - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/13/books/booksupdate/chelsea-manning-book-deal.html

    By Charlie Savage

    May 13, 2019

    WASHINGTON — Ever since she was publicly identified as the source who had disclosed a huge trove of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2011, Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst, has been a polarizing cultural figure — called a traitor by prosecutors, but celebrated as an icon by transparency and antiwar activists. Her life story, and her role in one of the most extraordinary leaks in American history, has been told in news articles, an Off Broadway play and even an opera. But while she spoke at her court-martial and has participated in interviews, Manning herself has not told her own story, until now. Manning is writing a memoir, which Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish in the winter of 2020, the publisher announced Monday.

    Manning was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison, the longest sentence ever handed down in an American leak case. After her conviction, Manning announced that she was a transgender woman and changed her name to “Chelsea,” although the military housed her in a Fort Leavenworth prison for male inmates. She had a difficult time there, attempting suicide twice in 2016, before President Barack Obama commuted most of the remainder of her sentence shortly before he left office in January 2017. In the meantime, WikiLeaks published Democratic emails stolen by Russian hackers during the 2016 presidential campaign, transforming its image from what it had been back when Manning decided to send archives of secret files to it.

    Manning reappeared in the news this year, refusing to testify before a grand jury as federal prosecutors continue to build a case against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder. Assange, currently in custody in Britain, is fighting extradition to the United States for a charge that he conspired with Manning to try to crack an encoded password that would have permitted her to log onto a classified computer network under a different person’s account rather than her own, which would have helped her mask her tracks better. She was jailed for two months for contempt over her refusal to answer questions about her interactions with Assange, then freed because the grand jury expired. But she has already been served with a new subpoena prosecutors obtained from a new grand jury and is expected to be jailed again soon.

    Below are edited excerpts from a conversation between Manning and Charlie Savage, a New York Times reporter who has written about her court-martial and her time in military prison.

    Tell me about your book.

    It’s basically my life story up until I got the commutation, from my birth to my time in school and going to the army and going to prison and the court-martial process. It’s a personal narrative of what was going on in my life surrounding that time and what led to the leaks, what led to prison, and how this whole ordeal has really shaped me and changed me. I view this book as a coming-of-age story. For instance, how my colleagues in the intelligence field really were the driving force behind my questioning of assumptions that I had come into the military with — how jaded they were, some of them having done two three four deployments previously. And then also there is a lot of stuff about how prisons are awful, and how prisoners survive and get through being in confinement.

    Do you have a title yet?

    There is no title yet. I am trying very hard to have some control over that, but none has been decided yet. Noreen Malone from New York magazine worked on it with me. She did a lot of the groundwork in terms of the research, and I did the storytelling, so it was a collaborative effort. I’m still going through and editing where she has taken independent sources to help refine my story, fact-check, verify things and provide a third-person perspective in shaping things.

    Is it written in first-person or third-person?

    It is written in first-person, but there are parts of the book that reference material that are independent of me. I’m still under obligation under the court rules and the Classified Information Procedures Act of 1980 to not disclose closed court-martial testimony or verify evidence that was put in the record. Things like that. So I can’t talk about that stuff and I’m not going to, and so I’m trying to keep this and maintain this as more of a personal story. There are parts of it that might reference reports or whatnot but I’m just going to say, “the media reported this, but I’m not confirming or denying it.”

    Are you going to submit the manuscript to the government for a classified information review?

    We’re trying our best to avoid the review process. There is a lot of stuff that is not going to be in the book that people would expect to be in there, but rules are rules and we can’t get around it. It’s more about personal experiences I had rather than anything specific. I’m not trying to relitigate the case, just tell my personal story.

    So if it ends with you getting out of military prison, you’re not going to address your current situation with the grand jury investigating WikiLeaks?
    Editors’ Picks
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    No, we’re not planning on including that in this current stage. If there is a book that gets into the more juicy details about that stuff, then we’ll probably get around to that after going through a review process, several years down the road from now, whenever the dust settles. But I think this is more about trying to contextualize my story from my perspective rather than get into the weeds of what is in the record of trial, what is in the documents, what the investigation focused on, because we’re just not able to get into that area.

    It sounds like you are a lot freer to talk about your gender identity than the WikiLeaks issue.

    Yeah. This is less a book about the case and more a book about trials, tribunals, struggles, difficulties, and overcoming them and surviving. If people are expecting to learn a lot more about the court-martial and a lot more about the case, then they probably shouldn’t be interested in this book. But if they want to know more about what it’s like to be me and survive, then there are reams of information in here. It’s much more autobiographical than it is a narrative thriller or crime story or anything like that. I have always pitched this to being very similar to “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. I’m really opening myself up to some really intimate things in this book, some really very personal moments and much more intimate points of my life that I’ve never disclosed before. You’re probably going to learn more about my love life than about the disclosures.
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  • U.S. War_Crimes in #Afghanistan Won’t Be Investigated — The Spark #1080
    https://the-spark.net/np1080601.html #CPI #crime_de_guerre #violence_sexuelle

    In 2017, the prosecutor for the #International_Criminal_Court (#ICC), Fatou Bensouda, asked to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. She said these were carried out by all sides, including the U.S. and the U.S.-backed government.

    She said, “There is reasonable basis to believe that, since May 2003, members of the U.S. armed forces and the #CIA have committed #war_crimes of #torture and #cruel_treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape and other forms of #sexual_violence pursuant to a policy approved by U.S. authorities.” And she submitted more than 20,000 pages of evidence to back up her charges.

    But no surprise – the U.S. blocked this investigation. First, they revoked Bensouda’s visa, effectively kicking her out of the country. Then, in April of this year, the judges at the court rejected her request to investigate. They noted that they have been unable to get the U.S. to cooperate, and said the ICC should “use its resources prioritizing activities that would have a better chance to succeed.”

    Yes, the ICC has a better chance of “success” – but only if its investigations fit the interests of U.S. #imperialism!

  • The Strange Case of the Woman Who Gave Birth to a Demon Cat | Mysterious Universe
    https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2019/03/the-strange-case-of-the-woman-who-gave-birth-to-a-demon-cat

    There was a time in our history when demons roamed the earth. It was a time when even the most educated believed there were sinister supernatural forces lurking among us, while the uneducated huddled in their darkened homes at night, fearful of the witches, warlocks, demons, and spirits that prowled their world. From this age of superstition and myth, this era when monsters were very real to the people who feared that dark unknown, come many strange stories of encounters with demonic forces. These are stories of magic and monsters, taken as real at the time, and one such odd account has managed to be rather persistent over the centuries is a tale of a humble peasant woman, her Devil lover, and her demon cat baby.
    For this strange tale we go back in time to the year 1569, where in Leicestershire, England, there lived a woman named Agnes Bowker. There was nothing particularly remarkable about the then 27-year-old Bowker, the humble daughter of a butcher who worked as a family servant at an estate, and she may have remained a nobody lost to history if it weren’t for a series of very bizarre events that would unfold. It began when Bowker suddenly became pregnant, a sinful situation as she was not married at the time, but this was apparently the least of her worries. On January 17th, 1569, it was reported that Bowker had given birth to some sort of cat-like monster, and the news at the time spread like wildfire, whispered under the breath of fearful locals. After all, this was an era in which myths and magic were very real, demons and the devil a very present threat, and superstition ran rampant. Many locals feared that the creature was a demonic abomination from Hell or a portent of incoming catastrophe, and Bowker did little to calm these fears, claiming that it was the child of some shapeshifting supernatural creature, which she had had sexual relations with on several occasions. David Cressy says of this in his book Travesties and Transgressions in Tudor and Stuart England: Tales of Discord and Dissension:

    She now said ‘that a thing came unto her as she was in bed and lay the first night very heavy upon her bed but touched her not. The next night she saw it and it was in the likeness of a black cat. By the moonlight it came into her bed and had knowledge of her body’ on several occasions.

    Word of the anomalous birth made it all the way to Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council and the Bishop of London, and rather than being written off as a hoax, the birth was actually seriously investigated. Among the first to be questioned on the incident were Bowker’s midwives, who were allegedly present at the birth, and amazingly they seemed to support the woman’s wild claims. One of the midwives, named Elizabeth Harrison, claimed that she had seen the alleged father of the creature, which she described as “the likeness of a bear, sometimes like a dog, sometimes like a man,” and explained that six other midwives had been present for the ominous birth. Another midwife named Margaret Roos claimed that, while she hadn’t actually seen the baby, it had “pricked” her with its claws while still in the womb, and although none of them had seen it actually come out of the body, it was claimed that they had gone to fetch what they needed for the birth and come back to the room to see the monstrosity on the floor at Bowker’s feet. Making it all the more bizarre is that Harrison also testified that Bowker had told her of meeting a woman in the countryside who had cryptically told her the portent that she would give birth to a beast called the “Mooncalf.”

    In the meantime, other witnesses were also questioned, including townsfolk and clergy, and there was even a body produced that was claimed to be the foul creature itself. Some local men claimed to have actually dissected it and examined it to find food and straw within its stomach, and in their opinion it had just been a regular cat. They even accused Bowker of having stolen a neighborhood cat in order to pull off a hoax. The Archdeacon’s Commissary, Anthony Anderson, was able to examine the cat himself, and not only made sketches of it, but also compared it with a normal cat. Anderson would come to the conclusion that the supposed “Bowker’s Cat” was just a normal cat, saying “It appeareth plainly to be a counterfeit matter; but yet we cannot extort confessions of the manner of doings.” Indeed, the Bishop of London, Edmund Grindal, would also concede that this was likely a hoax, but also admitted there was no way to prove it either way. London physician William Bullein would express doubts as to the veracity of the whole tale as well, but there were still plenty of scared people who believed it all.

    This expert opinion seems to have cast some doubt on the veracity of the whole story, and it did not help that Bowker seemed to be increasingly derailed, telling all sorts of conflicting stories. Sometimes she would expound on her night time visitations with a shapeshifting demon, at other times she said that she had been told to marry the Devil by a schoolmaster who had sexually abused her repeatedly, and that the demon had come to her in the form of a “greyhound and a cat” sent by him. Even the whereabouts of the baby were inconsistent, with Bowker at one point claiming that the child was being nursed at Guilsborough, and at another time saying that it had been stillborn, while still on other occasions she said that she had no memory of the actual birth, only being told after the fact by her midwives about the monstrosity that had come forth from her womb.

    However, even when the whole case was brought before a special ecclesiastical court in front of the Archdeacon of Leicester Bowker, her midwives remained adamant that the whole surreal story of the cat monster and the demon father was true. The case even went to a secular court, and one thing no one could ever figure out is just what had happened to the actual baby, because demon cat or not, it was widely known that Bowker really had been pregnant. It is unknown to this day whether it had been stillborn, as she often claimed, or whether it had really been sent away to be nursed, as she also claimed. It was also suggested that she may have killed her baby, not necessarily because it was a cat, but because she sought to escape the grave stigma of having a child out of wedlock. Of course there was also a contingent of people who believed that she really did have the cat abomination, and that the one that had been dissected was not the real one at all, although where it had gone was anyone’s guess. Whether there was anything supernatural or not going on here, a lot of people of the time believed there was, and Cressey would write:

    It mattered little whether Agnes gave birth to a bastard or to a beast, or whether she had murdered her baby; but it became a matter of public concern when people saw threatening portents in this apparent violation of nature, and when credulous Catholics gained ground by exploiting a dubious story. Abnormal births and bestial instrusions were shocking reminders of the unpredictability of the universe and of the power of hidden forces to subvert everyday routines. At times of crisis they assumed political dimensions, as augeries of ‘alterations of kingdoms’ and portents of ‘destruction of princes.’ It should come as no surprise, then, to find the government attempting to control or neutralize such reports in 1569.

    A sketch of Agnes Bowker’s cat

    In the end, Agnes Bowker was not found guilty of any crime, but that is about all we know about her life after that, and as soon as all of the court cases and investigations were over she just sort of evaporated into history. Regardless of what happened to Bowker, it is all rather fascinating and testament to the absurd weirdness of it all that her story has managed to remain talked about and remembered centuries later. Such is its utter bizarreness and its unique nature of having been given so much investigation and court time by the highest officials of the time that it has become nearly legendary. What happened to Agnes Bowker? Was this a wild tale spun by a possibly mentally unstable woman trying to escape the shame of a child out of wedlock, mixing with a mass hysteria fueled by the superstitions and fears of the supernatural at the times? Or did she really give birth to a demon child? Indeed, what happened to the child, demon or not? Why did the authorities spend so much time and manpower on this case? These are questions for which we will not likely find answers to, and the bizarre case of Agnes Bokwer’s cat manages to remain an intriguing historical oddity.

    #femme #accouchement #demon #chat

  • ’Endless trip to hell’: Israel jails hundreds of Palestinian boys a year. These are their testimonies - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    (C’est sous paywall)

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE--1.7021978

    They’re seized in the dead of night, blindfolded and cuffed, abused and manipulated to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Every year Israel arrests almost 1,000 Palestinian youngsters, some of them not yet 13

    #palestine #israel #enfants #violence

    • ’Endless trip to hell’: Israel jails hundreds of Palestinian boys a year. These are their testimonies
      They’re seized in the dead of night, blindfolded and cuffed, abused and manipulated to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Every year Israel arrests almost 1,000 Palestinian youngsters, some of them not yet 13
      Netta Ahituv | Mar. 14, 2019 | 9:14 PM | 2

      It was a gloomy, typically chilly late-February afternoon in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The weather didn’t deter the children of the Abu-Ayyash family from playing and frolicking outside. One of them, in a Spiderman costume, acted the part by jumping lithely from place to place. Suddenly they noticed a group of Israeli soldiers trudging along the dirt trail across the way. Instantly their expressions turned from joy to dread, and they rushed into the house. It’s not the first time they reacted like that, says their father. In fact, it’s become a pattern ever since 10-year-old Omar was arrested by troops this past December.

      The 10-year-old is one of many hundreds of Palestinian children whom Israel arrests every year: The estimates range between 800 and 1,000. Some are under the age of 15; some are even preteens. A mapping of the locales where these detentions take place reveals a certain pattern: The closer a Palestinian village is to a settlement, the more likely it is that the minors residing there will find themselves in Israeli custody. For example, in the town of Azzun, west of the Karnei Shomron settlement, there’s hardly a household that hasn’t experienced an arrest. Residents say that in the past five years, more than 150 pupils from the town’s only high school have been arrested.

      At any given moment, there are about 270 Palestinian teens in Israeli prisons. The most widespread reason for their arrest – throwing stones – does not tell the full story. Conversations with many of the youths, as well as with lawyers and human rights activists, including those from the B’Tselem human-rights organization, reveal a certain pattern, even as they leave many questions open: For example, why does the occupation require that arrests be violent and why is it necessary to threaten young people.

      A number of Israelis, whose sensibilities are offended by the arrests of Palestinian children, have decided to mobilize and fight the phenomenon. Within the framework of an organization called Parents Against Child Detention, its approximately 100 members are active in the social networks and hold public events “in order to heighten awareness about the scale of the phenomenon and the violation of the rights of Palestinian minors, and in order to create a pressure group that will work for its cessation,” as they explain. Their target audience is other parents, whom they hope will respond with empathy to the stories of these children.

      In general, there seems to be no lack of criticism of the phenomenon. In addition to B’Tselem, which monitors the subject on a regular basis, there’s been a protest from overseas, too. In 2013, UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children, assailed “the ill treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system, [which] appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” A report a year earlier from British legal experts concluded that the conditions the Palestinian children are subjected to amount to torture, and just five months ago the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe deplored Israel’s policy of arresting underage children, declaring, “An end must be put to all forms of physical or psychological abuse of children during arrest, transit and waiting periods, and during interrogations.”

      Arrest

      About half of the arrests of Palestinian adolescents are made in their homes. According to the testimonies, Israel Defense Forces soldiers typically burst into the house in the middle of the night, seize the wanted youth and whisk him away (very few girls are detained), leaving the family with a document stating where he’s being taken and on what charge. The printed document is in Arabic and Hebrew, but the commander of the force typically fills out the details in Hebrew only, then hands it to parents who may not be able to read it and don’t know why their son was taken.

      Attorney Farah Bayadsi asks why it’s necessary to arrest children in this manner, instead of summoning them for questioning in an orderly way. (The data show that only 12 percent of the youths receive a summons to be interrogated.)

      “I know from experience that whenever someone is asked to come in for questioning, he goes,” Bayadsi notes. She’s active in the Israeli branch of Defense for Children International, a global NGO that deals with the detention of minors and promotion of their rights.

      “The answer we generally get,” she says, “is that, ‘It’s done this way for security reasons.’ That means it’s a deliberate method, which isn’t intended to meet the underage youth halfway, but to cause him a lifelong trauma.”

      Indeed, as the IDF Spokesman’s Unit stated to Haaretz, in response, “The majority of the arrests, of both adults and minors, are carried out at night for operational reasons and due to the desire to preserve an orderly fabric of life and execute point-specific actions wherever possible.”

      About 40 percent of the minors are detained in the public sphere – usually in the area of incidents involving throwing stones at soldiers. That was the case with Adham Ahsoun, from Azzun. At the time, he was 15 and on his way home from a local grocery store. Not far away, a group of children had started throwing stones at soldiers, before running off. Ahsoun, who didn’t flee, was detained and taken to a military vehicle; once inside, he was hit by a soldier. A few children who saw what happened ran to his house to tell his mother. Grabbing her son’s birth certificate, she rushed to the entrance to the town to prove to the soldiers that he was only a child. But it was too late; the vehicle had already departed, headed to an army base nearby, where he would wait to be interrogated.

      By law, soldiers are supposed to handcuff children with their hands in front, but in many cases it’s done with their hands behind them. Additionally, sometimes the minor’s hands are too small for handcuffing, as a soldier from the Nahal infantry brigade told the NGO Breaking the Silence. On one occasion, he related, his unit arrested a boy “of about 11,” but the handcuffs were too big to bind his small hands.

      The next stage is the journey: The youths are taken to an army base or a police station in a nearby settlement, their eyes covered with flannelette. “When your eyes are covered, your imagination takes you to the most frightening places,” says a lawyer who represents young Palestinians. Many of those arrested don’t understand Hebrew, so that once pushed into the army vehicle they are completely cut off from what’s going on around them.

      In most cases, the handcuffed, blindfolded youth will be moved from place to place before actually being interrogated. Sometimes he’s left outside, in the open, for a time. In addition to the discomfort and the bewilderment, the frequent moving around presents another problem: In the meantime many acts of violence, in which soldiers beat the detainees, take place and go undocumented.

      Once at the army base or police station, the minor is placed, still handcuffed and blindfolded, on a chair or on the floor for a few hours, generally without being given anything to eat. The “endless trip to hell” is how Bayadsi describes this process. Memory of the incident, she adds, “is still there even years after the boy’s release. It implants in him an ongoing feeling of a lack of security, which will stay with him for his whole life.”

      Testimony provided to Breaking the Silence by an IDF staff sergeant about one incident in the West Bank illustrates the situation from the other side: “It was the first night of Hanukkah in 2017. Two children were throwing stones on Highway 60, on the road. So we grabbed them and took them to the base. Their eyes were covered with flannelette, and they were handcuffed in front with plastic cuffs. They looked young, between 12 and 16 years old.”

      When the soldiers gathered to light the first candle of the Hanukkah holiday, the detainees remained outside. “We’re shouting and making noise and using drums, which is a kind of company thing,” the soldier recalled, noting that he assumed the kids didn’t know Hebrew, although maybe they did understand the curses they heard. “Let’s say sharmuta [slut] and other words they might know from Arabic. How could they know we aren’t talking about them? They’ll probably thought that in another minute we were going to cook them.”

      Interrogation

      The nightmare can be of differing duration, the former detainees relate. Three to eight hours after the arrest, by which time the youth is tired and hungry – and sometimes in pain after being hit, frightened by threats and not even knowing why he’s there – he’s taken in for interrogation. This may be the first time the blindfold is removed and his hands freed. The process usually starts with a general question, such as, “Why do you throw stones at soldiers?” The rest is more intense – a barrage of questions and threats, aimed at getting the teen to sign a confession. In some cases, he’s promised that if he signs he’ll be given something to eat.

      According to the testimonies, the interrogators’ threats are directed squarely at the boy (“You’ll spend your whole life in jail”), or at his family (“I’ll bring your mother here and kill her before your eyes”), or at the family’s livelihood (“If you don’t confess, we’ll take away your father’s permit to work in Israel – because of you, he’ll be out of work and the whole family will go hungry”).

      “The system shows that the intention here is more to demonstrate control than to engage in enforcement,” suggests Bayadsi. “If the boy confesses, there’s a file; if he doesn’t confess, he enters the criminal circle anyway and is seriously intimidated.”

      Imprisonment

      Whether the young detainee has signed a confession or not, the next stop is prison. Either Megiddo, in Lower Galilee, or Ofer, north of Jerusalem. Khaled Mahmoud Selvi was 15 when he was brought to prison in October 2017 and was told to disrobe for a body search (as in 55 percent of the cases). For 10 minutes he was made to stand naked, along with another boy, and in winter.

      The months in detention, waiting for trial, and later, if they are sentenced, are spent in the youth wing of the facilities for security prisoners. “They don’t speak with their families for months and are allowed one visit a month, through glass,” Bayadsi relates.

      Far fewer Palestinian girls are arrested than boys. But there is no facility specially for them, so they are held in the Sharon prison for women, together with the adults.

      The trial

      The courtroom is usually the place where parents have their first sight of their child, sometimes several weeks after the arrest. Tears are the most common reaction to the sight of the young detainee, who will be wearing a prison uniform and handcuffs, and with a cloud of uncertainty hovering over everything. Israel Prisons Service guards don’t allow the parents to approach the youth, and direct them to sit on the visitors’ bench. Defense counsel is paid for either by the family or by the Palestinian Authority.

      At a recent remand hearing for several detainees, one boy didn’t stop smiling at the sight of his mother, while another lowered his eyes, perhaps to conceal tears. Another detainee whispered to his grandmother, who had come to visit him, “Don’t worry, tell everyone I’m fine.” The next boy remained silent and watched as his mother mouthed to him, “Omari, I love you.”

      While the children and their family try to exchange a few words and looks, the proceedings move along. As though in a parallel universe.

      The deal

      The vast majority of trials for juveniles ends in a plea bargain – safka in Arabic, a word Palestinian children know well. Even if there is no hard evidence to implicate the boy in stone-throwing, a plea is often the preferred option. If the detainee doesn’t agree to it, the trial could last a long time and he will be held in custody until the proceedings end.

      Conviction depends almost entirely on evidence from a confession, says lawyer Gerard Horton, from the British-Palestinian Military Court Watch, whose brief, according to its website, involves “monitoring the treatment of children in Israeli military detention.” According to Horton, who is based in Jerusalem, the minors will be more prone to confess if they don’t know their rights, are frightened and get no support or relief until they confess. Sometimes a detainee who does not confess will be told that he can expect to face a series of court appearances. At some stage, even the toughest youth will despair, the lawyer explains.

      The IDF Spokesman’s Unit stated in response: “The minors are entitled to be represented by an attorney, like any other accused, and they have the right to conduct their defense in any way they choose. Sometimes they choose to admit to guilt within the framework of a plea bargain but if they plead not guilty, a procedure involving hearing evidence is conducted, like the proceedings conducted in [civilian courts in] Israel, at the conclusion of which a legal decision will be handed down on the basis of the evidence presented to the court. The deliberations are set within a short time and are conducted efficiently and with the rights of the accused upheld.”

      Managing the community

      According to data of collected by the British-Palestinian NGO, 97 percent of the youths arrested by the IDF live in relatively small locales that are no more than two kilometers away from a settlement. There are a number of reasons for this. One involves the constant friction – physical and geographical – between Palestinians, on the one hand, and soldiers and settlers. However, according to Horton, there is another, no less interesting way to interpret this figure: namely, from the perspective of an IDF commander, whose mission is to protect the settlers.

      In the case of reported stone-throwing incidents, he says, the commander’s assumption is that the Palestinians involved are young, between the ages of 12 and 30, and that they come from the nearest village. Often the officer will turn to the resident collaborator in the village, who provides him with the names of a few boys.

      The next move is “to enter the village at night and arrest them,” Horton continues. “And whether these youths are the ones who threw the stones or not, you have already put a scare into the whole village” – which he says is an “effective tool” for managing a community.

      “When so many minors are being arrested like this, it’s clear that some of them will be innocent,” he observes. “The point is that this has to be happening all the time, because the boys grow up and new children appear on the scene. Each generation must feel the strong arm of the IDF.”

      According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit: “In recent years, many minors, some of them very young, have been involved in violent incidents, incitement and even terrorism. In these cases, there is no alternative but to institute measures, including interrogation, detention and trial, within the limits of and according to what is stipulated by law. As part of these procedures, the IDF operates to uphold and preserve the rights of the minors. In enforcing the law against them, their age is taken into account.

      “Thus, since 2014, among other measures, in certain instances, the minors are invited to the police station and are not arrested at home. In addition, proceedings relating to minors take place in the military court for juveniles, which examines the seriousness of the offense that’s attributed to the minor and the danger it poses, while taking into consideration his young age and his particular circumstances. Every allegation of violence on the part of IDF soldiers is examined, and cases in which the soldiers’ actions are found to be flawed are treated sternly.”

      The Shin Bet security service stated in response: “The Shin Bet, together with the IDF and the Israel Police, operates against every element that threatens to harm Israel’s security and the country’s citizenry. The terrorist organizations make extensive use of minors and recruit them to carry out terrorist activity, and there is a general tendency to involve minors in terrorist activity as part of local initiatives.

      “Interrogations of suspected terrorists are conducted by the Shin Bet under the law, and are subject to supervision and to internal and external review, including by all levels of the court system. The interrogations of minors are carried out with extra sensitivity and with consideration of their young age.”

      Khaled Mahmoud Selvi, arrested at 14 (October 2017)

      “I was arrested when I was 14, all the boys in the family were arrested that night. A year later, I was arrested again, with my cousin. They said I burned tires. It happened when I was sleeping. My mother woke me up. I thought it was time for school, but when I opened my eyes I saw soldiers above me. They told me to get dressed, handcuffed me and took me outside. I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and it was cold that night. My mother begged them to let me put on a jacket, but they didn’t agree. Finally, she threw the jacket on me, but they didn’t let me put my arms in the sleeves.

      “They took me to the Karmei Tzur settlement with my eyes covered, and I had the feeling that they were just driving in circles. When I walked, there was a pit in the road and they pushed me into it, and I fell. From there they took me to Etzion [police station]. There they put me in a room, and soldiers kept coming in all the time and kicking me. Someone passed by and said that if I didn’t confess, they would leave me in jail for the rest of my life.

      “At 7 A.M., they told me the interrogation was starting. I asked to go to the toilet before. My eyes were covered and a soldier put a chair in front of me. I tripped. The interrogation went on for an hour. They told me that they saw me burning tires and that it interfered with air traffic. I told them it wasn’t me. I didn’t see a lawyer until the afternoon, and he asked the soldiers to bring us food. It was the first time I had eaten since being arrested the night before.

      “At 7 P.M., I was sent to Ofer Prison, and I remained there for six months. In that period, I was in court more than 10 times. And there was also another interrogation, because a friend of mine was told while being questioned that if he didn’t confess and inform on me, they would bring his mother and shoot her before his eyes. So he confessed and informed. I’m not angry at him. It was his first arrest, he was scared.”

      Khaled Shtaiwi, arrested at 13 (November 2018)

      Khaled’s story is told by his father, Murad Shatawi: “On the night he was arrested, a phone call from my nephew woke me up. He said the house was surrounded by soldiers. I got up and got dressed, because I expected them to arrest me, on account of the nonviolent demonstrations I organize on Fridays. I never imagined they’d take Khaled. They asked me for the names of my sons. I told them Mumen and Khaled. When I said Khaled, they said, ‘Yes, him. We’re here to take him.’ I was in shock, so many soldiers showed up to arrest a boy of 13.

      “They handcuffed and blindfolded him and led him east on foot, toward the settlement of Kedumim, all the while cursing and hitting him a little. I saw it all from the window. They gave me a document showing that it was a legal arrest and I could come to the police station. When I got there, I saw him through a small hole in the door. He was handcuffed and blindfolded.

      “He stayed like that from the moment they arrested him until 3 P.M. the next day. That’s a picture that doesn’t leave me; I don’t know how I’ll go on living with that picture in my head. He was accused of throwing stones, but after four days they released him, because he didn’t confess and there was no other evidence against him. During the trial, when the judge wanted to speak to Khaled, he had to lean forward in order to see him, because Khaled was so small.

      “What was it like to see him like that? I am the father. That says it all. He hasn’t talked about it since getting out, three months ago. That’s a problem. I’m now organizing a ‘psychology day’ in the village, to help all the children here who have been arrested. Out of 4,500 people in the village, 11 children under the age of 18 have been arrested; five were under the age of 15.”

      Omar Rabua Abu Ayyash, arrested at age 10 (December 2018)

      Omar looks small for his age. He’s shy and quiet, and it’s hard to talk to him about the arrest, so members of his family recount the events in his place.

      Omar’s mother: “It happened at 10 A.M. on Friday, when there is no school. Omar was playing in the area in front of the house, he threw pebbles at birds that were chirping in the tree. The soldiers, who were in the watchtower across the way here, picked up on what he was doing and ran toward him. He ran, but they caught him and knocked him down. He started to cry, and he wet his pants. They kicked him a few times.

      “His grandmother, who lives here below, immediately went out and tried to take him from the soldiers, which caused a struggle and shouts. In the end, they left him alone and he went home and changed into dry pants. A quarter of an hour later, the soldiers came back, this time with their commander, who said he had to arrest the boy for throwing stones. When the other children in the family saw the soldiers in the house, they also wet their pants.”

      Omar’s father takes up the story: “I told the commander that he was under 12 and that I had to accompany him, so I rode with him in the jeep to the Karmei Tzur settlement. There the soldiers told him not to throw stones anymore, and that if he saw other children doing it, he should tell them. From there they took him the offices of the Palestinian Authority in Hebron. The whole story took about 12 hours. They gave him a few bananas to eat during those hours. Now, whenever the children see a military jeep or soldiers, they go inside. They’ve stopped playing outside since then. Before the incident, soldiers used to come here to play soccer with the children. Now they’ve stopped coming, too.”

      Tareq Shtaiwi, arrested at 14 (January 2019)

      “It was around 2 P.M. I had a fever that day, so Dad sent me to my cousin next door, because that’s almost the only place in the village with a heating unit. Suddenly soldiers showed up. They saw me watching them from the window, so they fired shots at the door of the building, knocked it down and started to come upstairs. I got scared, so I ran from the second floor to the third, but they stopped me on the way and took me outside. The soldiers wouldn’t let me take my coat, even though it was cold and I was sick. They took me on foot to Kedumim, handcuffed and blindfolded. They sat me on a chair. I heard doors and windows being slammed hard, I think they were trying to scare me.

      “After a while, they took me from Kedumim to Ariel, and I was there for five-six hours. They accused me of throwing stones a few days earlier with my friend. I told them I hadn’t thrown any stones. In the evening they moved me to the Hawara detention building; one of the soldiers told me I would never leave there. In the morning I was moved to Megiddo Prison. They didn’t have prisoners uniforms in my size, so they gave me clothes of Palestinian children who had been there before and left them for the next in line. I was the youngest person in the prison.

      “I had three court hearings, and after 12 days, at the last hearing, they told me that it was enough, that my father would pay a fine of 2,000 shekels [$525] and I was getting a three-year suspended sentence. The judge asked me what I intended to do after getting out, I told him I would go back to school and I wouldn’t go up to the third floor again. Since my arrest, my younger brother, who’s 7, has been afraid to sleep in the kids’ room and goes to sleep with our parents.”

      Adham Ahsoun, arrested in October 2018, on his 15th birthday

      “On my 15th birthday, I went to the store in the village center to buy a few things. Around 7:30 in the evening, soldiers entered the village and children started to throw stones at them. On the way home with my bag, they caught me. They took me to the entrance of the village and put me in a jeep. One of the soldiers started to hit me. Then they put plastic handcuffs on me and covered my eyes and took me like that to the military base in Karnei Shomron. I was there for about an hour. I couldn’t see a thing, but I had the feeling that a dog was sniffing me. I was afraid. From there they took me to another military base and left me there for the night. They didn’t give me anything to eat or drink.

      “In the morning, they moved me to the interrogation facility in Ariel. The interrogator told me that the soldiers caught me throwing stones. I told him that I hadn’t thrown stones, that I was on my way home from the store. So he called the soldiers into the interrogation room. They said, ‘He’s lying, we saw him, he was throwing stones.’ I told him that I really hadn’t thrown stones, but he threatened to arrest my mother and father. I panicked. I asked him, ‘What do you want from me?’ He said he wanted me to sign that I threw stones at soldiers, so I signed. The whole time I didn’t see or talk to a lawyer.

      “My plea bargain was that I would confess and get a five-month jail sentence. Afterward, they gave me one-third off for good behavior. I got out after three months and a fine of 2,000 shekels. In jail I tried to catch up with the material I missed in school. The teachers told me they would only take into account the grades of the second semester, so it wouldn’t hurt my chances of being accepted for engineering studies in university.”

      Muhmen Teet, arrested at 13 (November 2017)

      “At 3 A.M., I heard knocking on the door. Dad came into the room and said there were soldiers in the living room and wanted us to show ID cards. The commanding officer told my father that they were taking me to Etzion for questioning. Outside, they handcuffed and blindfolded me and put me in a military vehicle. We went to my cousin’s house; they also arrested him. From there we went to Karmei Tzur and waited, handcuffed and blindfolded, until the morning.

      “In the morning, they only took my cousin for interrogation, not me. After his interrogation, they took us to Ofer Prison. After a day there, they took us back to Etzion and said they were going to interrogate me. Before the interrogation, they took me into a room, where there was a soldier who slapped me. After he hit me in one room, he took me to the interrogation room. The interrogator said I was responsible for burning tires, and because of that the grove near the house caught fire. I said it wasn’t me, and I signed a document that the interrogator gave me. The document was also printed in Arabic, but the interrogator filled it out in Hebrew. I was taken back to Ofer Prison.

      “I had seven hearings in court, because at the first hearing I said I hadn’t intended to confess, I just didn’t understand what I signed and it wasn’t true. So they sent me back for another interrogation. Again I didn’t confess. Then they sent me to interrogation another time and again I didn’t confess. That’s what it was like in three interrogations. In the end, my lawyer did a deal with the prosecutor that if I confessed in court – which I did – and my family would pay 4,000 shekels, they would release me.

      “I’m a good student, I like soccer, both playing and watching it. Since the arrest I hardly wander around outside.”

      Khalil Zaakiq, arrested at age 13 (January 2019)

      “Around 2 A.M. someone knocked on the door. I woke up and saw a lot of soldiers in the house. They said we should all sit in the living room sofa and not move. The commander called Uday, my big brother, told him to get dressed and informed him that he was under arrest. It was the third time they arrested him. My father was also once under arrest. Suddenly they told me to put my shoes on too and go with them.

      “They took us out of the house and tied our hands and covered our eyes. We went like that on foot to the base in Karmei Tzur. There they sat me on the floor with hands tied and eyes covered for around three hours. At about 5 A.M., they moved us to Etzion. On the way there in the jeep they hit us, they slapped me. In Etzion, I was sent to be checked by a doctor. He asked if I had been beaten and I said yes. He didn’t do anything, only checked my blood pressure and said I could stand up to an interrogation.

      “My interrogation started at 8 A.M.. They asked me to tell them which children throw stones. I said I didn’t know, so the interrogator gave me a slap. The interrogation went on for four hours. Afterward, they put me into a dark room for 10 minutes and then took me back to the interrogation room, but now they only fingerprinted me and put me into a detention cell for an hour. After an hour, Uday and I were moved to Ofer Prison. I didn’t sign a confession, neither about myself nor about others.

      “I got out after nine days, because I wasn’t guilty of anything. My parents had to pay 1,000 shekels for bail. My little brother, who is 10, has been really afraid ever since. Whenever someone knocks at the door, he wets his pants.”

  • Press Release on the Protest in #Ellwangen March 14, 2019

    Ellwangen has become a symbol of our protest!

    Picket from 11 a.m. onwards, Am Fuchseck in Ellwangen, rally at 3:30 p.m.

    Refugees take legal action against their sentences.

    Trial dates before the Ellwangen district court on March 14, 2019 cancelled!

    Detained refugees must be released.

    Since May 3, 2018 various groups and trial observers have presented criticism of the brutal police operation carried out by 500 officials at the first reception centre in Ellwangen. The police operation itself triggered more than 25 criminal proceedings. Letters and e-mails to the police headquarters in Aalen, to the democratic factions in the state parliament and to the Ministry of the Interior, Digitisation and Migration were not answered, or only partially or briefly. Evidently there is little interest to question the legality of the police action.

    After the first trials began at the Ellwangen local court in July 2018 and a refugee was sentenced to six months in prison without probation for assaulting the police (tätlicher Angriff), there were already serious doubts about the legality of the police operation. Shortly afterwards, various groups wrote a multi-page inquiry to the Aalen police headquarters. The letter was sent to all democratic factions in the Stuttgart state parliament. It was also brought to the attention of the Ministry of the Interior.

    The letter of 29 August 2018 already pointed out that “there was sufficient time between the protest action on 30 April and the police action on 3 May 2018 to obtain a court order. Since the time span between the two police operations was long, this does not constitute an exigent circumstance (Gefahr im Verzug)”. This point was taken up now by the judge of the Ellwangen local court, because also rooms in a refugee accommodation are protected by the Basic Law article 13 GG “inviolability of the home”.

    After further proceedings at the district court Ellwangen and issuing of orders of punishment (Strafbefehl), numerous further inhabitants have taken legal action. In one case meanwhile the proceedings were terminated (Einstellung). The three scheduled trial dates for March 14, 2019 have been cancelled. The background to this is that the court has given up on the public prosecutor’s office to conduct further investigations. The proceedings are continuing, but hearings will not take place due to this court order for the time being. It is obvious that the police raid had no legal basis. And if a search has not been lawful, defendants did not make themselves punishable. In this context, we demand the immediate termination (Einstellung) of all cases and the annulment of all sentences already imposed on residents of the camp. We also demand the release of the detainees!

    Alassa M. took legal action before the Stuttgart administrative court against the police operation of May 3, 2018. Since his legal re-entry and renewed application for asylum, the public prosecutor’s office has tried to criminalise him in connection with the protest in Ellwangen and to present him as a criminal. Months later, criminal investigations are initiated and orders of punishment (Strafbefehl) issued. The impression of a political guideline by the Green Party – CDU-led state government, in particular by the CDU-led ministry of the interior, is obvious here.

    On Thursday March 14, 2019 we call for a protest to Ellwangen. We would like to commemorate the police operation that took place exactly a year ago in Donauwörth and of the questionable, violent role of the security personnel in the mass camps, especially in Bavaria. Mass camps, ANKER centres or first reception facilities are increasingly revealed as state institutions in which more and more basic and human rights of the residents are latently undermined. These institutions are increasingly developing their own dynamics and questionable power structures, which enable police operations such as those that took place in Ellwangen, Donaueschingen, Donauwörth, Plattling, Bamberg, Fürstenfeldbruck and other camps. We understand the protest in Ellwangen on March 14 also as a protest against these state power centres, which in the end can only be classified as a stage on the way to sealing off refugees and eliminating the right to asylum. Together we must put a stop to this development.

    First signatories

    Stoffwechsel e.V. Karlsruhe

    Aktion Bleiberecht Freiburg

    Freiburger Forum aktiv gegen Ausgrenzung

    Solidarity International

    Julia Scheller Landesvorsitzende MLPD Baden-Württemberg

    Haru Schuh Mannheim

    Justizwatch

    Forim Azilon – Asyl und Menschenrecht Konstanz

    Daniel Tandol

    Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie

    KOP – Kampagne für Opfer rassistischer Polizeigewalt

    Freundeskreis Alassa & friends

    Ausbrechen

    Unabhängiger Freundkreis Asyl Murrhardt

    Solinet Hannover

    Karawane Hamburg

    Lili Mirecki

    Antifaschistisches Aktionsbündnis Stuttgart & Region (AABS)

    OTKM Stuttgart

    IL Stuttgart

    http://cultureofdeportation.org/2019/03/13/press-release-for-march-14-2019
    #Allemagne #réfugiés #asile #migrations #violences_policières #manifestation #Anker-Zentrum

    In German :
    https://refugees4refugees.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/pressemitteilung-zum-protest-am-14-03-2019-in-ellwangen

  • Opinion | Stephen Kinzer: We’re edging closer to nuclear war - The Boston Globe
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/03/07/edging-closer-nuclear-war/upTrxiHlrXiO0Xo40EqsfM/story.html

    Once while waiting for a flight at an airport in Ecuador, I stared at a giant map of the country that was painted on the terminal wall. It looked odd. Ecuador seemed much larger than I remembered. Finally I realized that on this map, its borders had been drawn to include territory in the Amazon that Ecuador lost to Peru in the 19th century and still claims. A banner over the map proclaimed: “Ecuador Was, Is and Will Always Be an Amazon Nation.” The dispute over this territory has set off several wars between Peru and Ecuador. The last one, in 1995, led to several hundred casualties. In a world where nuclear weapons are widely spread, political passion could turn an obscure dispute like this into global catastrophe.

    That world is emerging. The Trump administration has been moving systematically to undermine accords that have kept nuclear proliferation within possibly manageable limits over the last half century. Most recently it announced that the United States will withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, which regulates several classes of nuclear missiles. Steps like this produce little if any military gain and damage the United States in the court of world opinion.

    #armes #nucléaire

  • Finn-Kirsten Iversdatter: Norway’s Forgotten Witch (http://mirabili...
    https://diasp.eu/p/8564395

    Finn-Kirsten Iversdatter: Norway’s Forgotten Witch

    From Heritage Daily: Finn-Kirsten Iversdatter: Norway’s Forgotten Witch.

    The case has been almost completely absent from Norwegian history, despite the fact that it caused an uproar at the time. It was the talk of the town in Trondheim, between the remote villages from the south to the north of Trøndelag, and even all the way to Nordland. The story itself, and the characters that emerge from the court records, could easily be from the pages of a fantastic and macabre novel, she says. The trial against Finn-Kirsten started in the isolated mountain village Støren in 1674, and rumbled on until 1677. After that, it disappeared into the darkness of history. Finn-Kirsten Iversdatter was the last person to be executed for witchcraft in Central (...)

  • Millions of forest-dwelling indigenous people in India to be evicted | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/22/millions-of-forest-dwelling-indigenous-people-in-india-to-be-evicted

    Millions of Indians face eviction after the country’s supreme court ruled that indigenous people illegally living on forest land should move.

    Campaigners for the rights of tribal and forest-dwelling people have called the court’s decision on Wednesday “an unprecedented disaster” and “the biggest mass eviction in the name of conservation, ever”.
    Indian police use elephants to evict illegal settlers
    Read more

    The ruling came in response to petitions filed by various wildlife conservation groups, which wanted the court to declare the 2006 Forest Rights Act invalid. The act gives forest dwelling people the right to their ancestral lands, including those in specially “protected” areas that contain sanctuaries and wildlife parks to conserve wild life. The groups told the court that “tribal” people in 20 states had encroached illegally on these protected areas, jeopardising efforts to protect wildlife and forests.

    The conservation groups said state governments should see if families could prove their claim under the act and, if they could, they should be allowed to live and work on the land. If they failed to prove their claim, they should be evicted by the state government.

    The supreme court has ordered the 20 state governments – where claims were considered by special committees – to act on about 1.1m claims now rejected as bogus and evict the families. Depending on the size of the families, more than 1m claims could translate to about 5-7 million people being evicted by 27 July.

    Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, said: “This judgment is a death sentence for millions of tribal people in India, land theft on an epic scale and a monumental injustice. It will lead to wholesale misery, impoverishment, disease and death, an urgent humanitarian crisis, and it will do nothing to save the forests which these tribespeople have protected for generations.”

    Protests flare in Odisha over eviction of a million forest families
    https://countercurrents.org/2019/02/21/supreme-court-of-india-orders-forced-eviction-of-1-million-adivasis

    #Inde #forêt #peuples_des_forêts #intouchables #évictions_forcées #guerre_aux_pauvres

  • Israeli TV journalist reacts to outcry after saying occupation turns soldiers into ’animals’

    Oshrat Kotler, who received death threats for her comment, says she can’t ignore ’heavy price that we are paying through our children for ruling over another people’
    Itay Stern
    Feb 24, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israeli-anchor-reacts-to-outcry-after-saying-occupation-turns-soldiers-to-a

    TV journalist Oshrat Kotler on Saturday responded to the uproar she caused last week, when she said Israeli soldiers become “human animals” during their army service in the West Bank.

    “They send children to the army, to the territories, and get them back human animals. That’s the result of the occupation,” Kotler said last week following a piece on the five Israeli soldiers who were indicted for beating two detained Palestinians, which aired on her Channel 13 show, “Magazine.”

    On Saturday night she spoke again toward the end of the program to clarify her comments, choking with tears as she spoke.

    “Last week we broadcast here a very complex and painful report about the soldiers of the ‘Netzah Yehuda’ [battalion] who were involved in a series of harsh acts of violence,” she said. “For two weeks we investigated, filmed and edited, reporter Arik Weiss and myself, this report with the greatest caution because both of us understood that the matter was very charged and very hard to absorb.”

    Thousands of complaints were filed against Kotler, as well as death threats, after which Channel 13 decided to provide her with a security guard. Many politicians rushed to condemn her comments, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, both demanding she apologize.

    Kotler criticized politicians in the midst of an election campaign for making “cynical” use of her comments and portraying them out of the story’s context. “What I said here was directed only at the soldiers who violated the law and not toward IDF soldiers in general. They were spoken with great pain,” said Kotler. Channel 13 News came to her defense, saying she was allowed to express her opinion, even if it does not reflect the opinion of the entire editorial staff.

    “The purpose of the story, as was the purpose of my comments that followed it too, was to make us as a society to take personal responsibility for the actions of the soldiers of Netzah Yehuda, because it is impossible to accuse them of crossing moral and legal boundaries when we are the ones who put them in an impossible situation day after day,” she added. “The public criticism should not be directed at the soldiers, and it would be proper for the court to consider that and be lenient in their sentencing."

    • VIDEO. « Ils reviennent transformés en animaux. C’est le résultat de l’occupation » : une journaliste israélienne critique les soldats de Tsahal en plein direct
      Mis à jour le 22/02/2019
      https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/proche-orient/israel-palestine/video-ils-reviennent-transformes-en-animaux-c-est-le-resultat-de-l-occu

      Elle a prononcé ce commentaire après avoir évoqué le cas de soldats de l’armée israélienne soupçonnés d’avoir violemment frappé deux suspects palestiniens aux mains attachées et aux yeux bandés.

      Je vais continuer à parler dans cette émission. Vous ne me ferez pas taire." Le coup de colère, en direct, de la journaliste israélienne Oshrat Kotler a suscité une vive controverse, samedi 16 février, rapporte Haaretz. Elle a ainsi affirmé sur la chaîne HaHadashot 13 que le contrôle israélien de la Cisjordanie transformait les soldats en « animaux ».

  • She Fled China’s Camps—but She’s Still Not Free – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/06/she-fled-chinas-camps-but-shes-still-not-free


    Sayragul Sauytbay sits inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing at a court in Zharkent, Kazakhstan, on July 13, 2018.
    Ruslan Pryanikov/AFP/Getty Images

    Sayragul Sauytbay, the only person to have worked inside an internment camp in Xinjiang and spoken publicly about it, now faces an uncertain future in Kazakhstan.

    ALMATY, Kazakhstan—Speaking to a packed courthouse in eastern Kazakhstan in August 2018, Sayragul Sauytbay—an ethnic Kazakh Chinese national—provided some of the earliest testimony about Beijing’s vast internment camp system for Muslim minorities in its western Xinjiang region. As a former instructor at a camp, Sauytbay had crossed the border illegally into Kazakhstan four months earlier, as she feared internment herself, and now stood on trial with prosecutors in the Central Asian country vying for her deportation back to China.

    Sauytbay’s lawyers argued that she would be arrested or even killed for having shared knowledge of the camps, where between 800,000 and 2 million members of traditionally Muslim ethnic groups have been detained since 2017, according to U.S. State Department estimates. Despite Kazakhstan’s strong ties to Beijing, the court declined to send Sauytbay back to China. The ruling was seen as a rebuke of Kazakhstan’s powerful neighbor, and as Sauytbay was ushered out of the courtroom, she was greeted by a mob of supporters, who chanted, “Long live Kazakhstan!

    Then the previously outspoken Sauytbay went silent, engaging in a media blackout shortly after her trial. Now, six months later, the summer celebrations atop the courtroom steps look premature, with her future in Kazakhstan uncertain and pressure from China for her extradition growing.

    In an interview with Foreign Policy, Sauytbay, 42, said she fears that she may be sent back to China and that despite the August court ruling, her status in the country remains in limbo. Facing a growing set of obstacles—from attempts to ensure her silence to absent legal representation to having been repeatedly denied asylum status by the government—she said her time in Kazakhstan, where her husband and two children are both citizens, could be coming to an end.

    I am an inconvenient witness. I saw everything [in the camps],” Sauytbay said in a late January interview. “I can’t say that [China is] afraid of me, but they want me to keep silent.

    As the only person to have worked inside an internment camp in Xinjiang and spoken publicly about it, Sauytbay remains a particular liability for Beijing as it seeks to curb the mounting international criticism around its mass internment system.

    I’d love nothing more than to get asylum in Kazakhstan and be a happy mom with my children,” Sauytbay said. “But I don’t know if that is possible anymore. I can’t exclude pressure from the Chinese side on the government of Kazakhstan.

    Sauytbay said she remains conflicted about what to do. She is still committed to finding a way to have her status formalized in Kazakhstan, but she also feels a sense of duty to keep speaking out about the abuses she witnessed. Sauytbay reiterated claims she made during her hearing in August that she was granted access to classified documents that offered new insights about the inner workings of the network of camps in Xinjiang but refused to disclose any details.

    I don’t want to talk about that until I have some kind of protection,” she said. “I’d prefer that protection to come from Kazakhstan, but I might need help from other countries.

    Beijing made efforts to ensure Sauytbay’s silence. As first reported by the Globe and Mail, she received news that members of her family still in Xinjiang had been arrested and possibly sent to a camp by Chinese authorities during her trial in Kazakhstan. Sauytbay said she believes the arrests were in retaliation for her releasing information about the internment system in China and that a few months after her post-trial silence, she received word from contacts in Xinjiang that her family had been released and were now back home.

    Sauytbay also said a small group of people, unknown to her, came to her house after the trial and told her to keep silent. The small group of Kazakh-speaking men spoke in vague terms about the Chinese government’s policies in Xinjiang and said there would be consequences for her and her family if she spoke out again.

  • Last minute reprieve for wild geese flying over France – META
    https://meta.eeb.org/2019/02/07/last-minute-reprieve-for-wild-geese-flying-over-france

    A group of NGOs – France Nature Environnement (FNE), La ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO), Humanité et Biodiversité, and One Voice – has urged the ‘Conseil d’État’ to intervene against the decree that expanded the hunting period of the migratory bird.

    The decree, published by the Ministry for Ecological and Socially-just Transition, authorised the hunting of 4000 wild geese in February, despite European nature protection rules stating that hunting the species must end by 31 January.

    The court rejected the arguments of the hunters and repeated – as it has been doing for the past 20 years – that the hunting must stop at the end of January.

    #nananère

  • #cryptocurrency Exchange QuadrigaCX Could Be Broke
    https://hackernoon.com/cryptocurrency-exchange-quadrigacx-could-be-broke-770c8815f60b?source=rs

    Cryptocurrency Exchange QuadrigaCX Is Unable to Reimburse CustomersSource: Extremetech.com.The cryptocurrency exchange company QuadrigaCX, which was founded in 2013, has entered dark digital waters. The Canadian company lost its founder and CEO, Gerald Cotton (also being spelled Cotten by reporters), to Crohn’s disease last December while he was in Jaipur, India.His widow, Jennifer Robertson, in a sworn affidavit filed on Jan. 31, 2019, stated QuadrigaCX owes its users nearly $250 million in Canadian currency (an equivalent to $190 million USD) in cryptocurrency and fiat money.What makes the entire situation all more difficult for QuadrigaCX is that Robertson informed the court that the customers’ cryptocurrency is stored on Cotton’s encrypted laptop. On file on Cotton’s laptop sits a (...)

    #investing #legal #crypto #bitcoin

  • Jagal - The Act of Killing
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tILiqotj7Y


    v.o. sans sous-titres

    avec sous-titres
    https://amara.org/en/videos/lCHCQE8uqUJb/en/749348
    à 00:16:00 un gangster parle de sa passion pour le cinémà et comment c’était pratique d’avoir les locaux pour tuer et torturer en face de la salle de projection.

    C’est le film le moins apprécié par l’office de tourisme indonésien car il montre que le pays est gouverné aujourd’hui par les assassins de 1965/66 qui se font un plaisir de se vanter de leurs crimes devant la caméra.

    BACKGROUND | The Act of Killing
    http://theactofkilling.com/background

    CONTEXT, BACKGROUND AND METHOD
    First Encounter with the 1965-66 Massacres – The Globalization Tapes
    In 2001-2002, Christine Cynn and I went to Indonesia for the first time to produce The Globalization Tapes (2003), a participatory documentary project made in collaboration with the Independent Plantation Workers Union of Sumatra. Using their own forbidden history as a case study, these Indonesian filmmakers worked with us to trace the development of contemporary globalization from its roots in colonialism to the present.

    The Globalization Tapes exposes the devastating role of militarism and repression in building the global economy, and explores the relationships between trade, third-world debt, and international institutions like the IMF and the World Trade Organization. Made by some of the poorest workers in the world, the film is a lyrical and incisive account of how our global financial institutions shape and enforce the corporate world order. The film uses chilling first-hand accounts, hilarious improvised interventions, collective debate and archival collage.

    Several scenes in The Globalization Tapes reveal the earliest traces of the methods we refined in the shooting of The Act of Killing: plantation workers stage a satirical commercial for the pesticide that poisons them; worker-filmmakers pose as World Bank agents who offer microfinance to ‘develop’ local businesses – offers that are both brutal and absurd, yet tempting nonetheless.

    While shooting and editing The Globalization Tapes, we discovered that the 1965-66 Indonesian massacres were the dark secret haunting Indonesia’s much-celebrated entrance into the global economy. One of the military’s main objectives in the killings was to destroy the anti-colonial labour movement that had existed until 1965, and to lure foreign investors with the promise of cheap, docile workers and abundant natural resources. The military succeeded (The Globalization Tapes is a testament to the extraordinary courage of the plantation worker-filmmakers as they challenge this decades-long legacy of terror and try to build a new union).

    The killings would come up in discussions, planning sessions, and film shoots nearly every day, but always in whispers. Indeed, many of the plantation workers were themselves survivors of the killings. They would discretely point out the houses of neighbors who had killed their parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles. The perpetrators were still living in the same village and made up, along with their children and protégés, the local power structure. As outsiders, we could interview these perpetrators – something the plantation workers could not do without fear of violence.

    In conducting these first interviews, we encountered the pride with which perpetrators would boast about the most grisly details of the killings. The Act of Killing was born out of our curiosity about the nature of this pride – its clichéd grammar, its threatening performativity, its frightening banality.

    The Globalization Tapes was a film made collectively by the plantation workers themselves, with us as facilitators and collaborating directors. The Act of Killing was also made by working very closely with its subjects, while in solidarity and collaboration with the survivors’ families. However, unlike The Globalization Tapes, The Act of Killing is an authored work, an expression of my own vision and concerns regarding these issues.

    THE BEGINNING OF THE ACT OF KILLING

    By the time I first met the characters in The Act of Killing (in 2005), I had been making films in Indonesia for three years, and I spoke Indonesian with some degree of fluency. Since making The Globalization Tapes (2003), Christine Cynn, fellow film-maker and longtime collaborator Andrea Zimmerman and I had continued filming with perpetrators and survivors of the massacres in the plantation areas around the city of Medan. In 2003 and 2004, we filmed more interviews and simple re-enactments with Sharman Sinaga, the death squad leader who had appeared in The Globalization Tapes. We also filmed as he introduced us to other killers in the area. And we secretly interviewed survivors of the massacres they committed.

    Moving from perpetrator to perpetrator, and, unbeknownst to them, from one community of survivors to another, we began to map the relationships between different death squads throughout the region, and began to understand the process by which the massacres were perpetrated. In 2004, we began filming Amir Hasan, the death squad leader who had commanded the massacres at the plantation where we made The Globalization Tapes.

    In late 2004, Amir Hasan began to introduce me to killers up the chain of command in Medan. Independently in 2004, we began contacting ‘veterans’ organizations of death squad members and anti-leftist activists in Medan. These two approaches allowed us to piece together a chain of command, and to locate the surviving commanders of the North Sumatran death squads. In early interviews with the veterans of the killings (2004), I learned that the most notorious death squad in North Sumatra was Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry’s Frog Squad (Pasukan Kodok).

    During these first meetings with Medan perpetrators (2004 and 2005), I encountered the same disturbing boastfulness about the killings that we had been documenting on the plantations. The difference was that these men were the celebrated and powerful leaders not of a small rural village, but of the third largest city in Indonesia (Greater Medan has a population of over four million people).

    Our starting point for The Act of Killing was thus the question: how had this society developed to the point that its leaders could – and would – speak of their own crimes against humanity with a cheer that was at once celebratory but also intended as a threat?

    OVERVIEW AND CHRONOLOGY OF THE METHODS USED IN THE ACT OF KILLING

    Building on The Globalization Tapes and our film work outside Indonesia, we had developed a method in which we open a space for people to play with their image of themselves, re-creating and re-imagining it on camera, while we document this transformation as it unfolds. In particular, we had refined this method to explore the intersection between imagination and extreme violence.

    In the early days of research (2005), I discovered that the army recruited its killers in Medan from the ranks of movie theatre gangsters (or preman bioskop) who already hated the leftists for their boycott of American movies – the most profitable in the cinema. I was intrigued by this relationship between cinema and killings, although I had no idea it would be so deep. Not only did Anwar and his friends know and love the cinema, but they dreamed of being on the screen themselves, and styled themselves after their favorite characters. They even borrowed their methods of murder from the screen.

    Of course, I began by trying to understand in as much detail as possible Anwar and his friends’ roles in the killings and, afterwards, in the regime they helped to build. Among the first things I did was to bring them to the former newspaper office directly across the road from Anwar’s old cinema, the place where Anwar and his friends killed most of their victims. There, they demonstrated in detail what they had done. Although they were filming documentary re-enactment and interviews, during breaks I noticed that they would muse about how they looked like various movie stars – for instance, Anwar compared his protégé and sidekick, Herman to Fernando Sancho.

    To understand how they felt about the killings, and their unrepentant way of representing them on film, I screened back the unedited footage of these early re-enactments, and filmed their responses. At first, I thought that they would feel the re-enactments made them look bad, and that they might possibly come to a more complex place morally and emotionally.

    I was startled by what actually happened. On the surface at least, Anwar was mostly anxious that he should look young and fashionable. Instead of any explicit moral reflection, the screening led him and Herman spontaneously to suggest a better, and more elaborate, dramatization.

    To explore their love of movies, I screened for them scenes from their favorite films at the time of the killings – Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah and, ironically, The Ten Commandments topped the list – recording their commentary and the memories these films elicited. Through this process, I came to realize why Anwar was continually bringing up these old Hollywood films whenever I filmed re-enactments with them: he and his fellow movie theatre thugs were inspired by them at the time of the killings, and had even borrowed their methods of murder from the movies. This was such an outlandish and disturbing idea that I in fact had to hear it several times before I realized quite what Anwar and his friends were saying.

    He described how he got the idea of strangling people with wire from watching gangster movies. In a late-night interview in front of his former cinema, Anwar explained how different film genres would lead him to approach killing in different ways. The most disturbing example was how, after watching a “happy film like an Elvis Presley musical”, Anwar would “kill in a happy way”.

    In 2005, I also discovered that the other paramilitary leaders (not just the former movie theater gangsters) had other personal and deep-seated relationship to movies. Ibrahim Sinik, the newspaper boss who was secretary general of all the anti-communist organizations that participated in the killings, and who directly gave the orders to Anwar’s death squad, turned out to be a feature film producer, screenwriter, and former head of the Indonesian Film Festival.

    In addition to all this, Anwar and his friends’ impulse towards being in a film about the killings was essentially to act in dramatizations of their pasts – both as they remember them, and as they would like to be remembered (the most powerful insights in The Act of Killing probably come in those places where these two agendas radically diverge). As described, the idea of dramatizations came up quite spontaneously, in response to viewing the rushes from Anwar’s first re-enactments of the killings.

    But it would be disingenuous to claim that we facilitated the dramatizations only because that’s what Anwar and his friends wanted to do. Ever since we produced The Globalization Tapes, the thing that most fascinated us about the killings was the way the perpetrators we filmed would recount their stories of those atrocities. One had the feeling that we weren’t simply hearing memories, but something else besides – something intended for a spectator. More precisely, we felt we were receiving performances. And we instinctively understood, I think, that the purpose of these performances was somehow to assert a kind of impunity, to maintain a threatening image, to perpetuate the autocratic regime that had begun with the massacres themselves.

    We sensed that the methods we had developed for incorporating performance into documentary might, in this context, yield powerful insights into the mystery of the killers’ boastfulness, the nature of the regime of which they are a part, and, most importantly, the nature of human ‘evil’ itself.

    So, having learned that even their methods of murder were directly influenced by cinema, we challenged Anwar and his friends to make the sort of scenes they had in mind. We created a space in which they could devise and star in dramatisations based on the killings, using their favorite genres from the medium.

    We hoped to catalyze a process of collective remembrance and imagination. Fiction provided one or two degrees of separation from reality, a canvas on which they could paint their own portrait and stand back and look at it.

    We started to suspect that performance played a similar role during the killings themselves, making it possible for Anwar and his friends to absent themselves from the scene of their crimes, while they were committing them. Thus, performing dramatizations of the killings for our cameras was also a re-living of a mode of performance they had experienced in 1965, when they were killing. This obviously gave the experience of performing for our cameras a deeper resonance for Anwar and his friends than we had anticipated.

    And so, in The Act of Killing, we worked with Anwar and his friends to create such scenes for the insights they would offer, but also for the tensions and debates that arose during the process – including Anwar’s own devastating emotional unravelling.

    This created a safe space, in which all sorts of things could happen that would probably elude a more conventional documentary method. The protagonists could safely explore their deepest memories and feelings (as well as their blackest humor). I could safely challenge them about what they did, without fear of being arrested or beaten up. And they could challenge each other in ways that were otherwise unthinkable, given Sumatra’s political landscape.

    Anwar and his friends could direct their fellow gangsters to play victims, and even play the victims themselves, because the wounds are only make-up, the blood only red paint, applied only for a movie. Feelings far deeper than those that would come up in an interview would surface unexpectedly. One reason the emotional impact was so profound came from the fact that this production method required a lot of time – the filmmaking process came to define a significant period in the participants’ lives. This meant that they went on a deeper journey into their memories and feelings than they would in a film consisting largely of testimony and simple demonstration.

    Different scenes used different methods, but in all of them it was crucial that Anwar and his friends felt a sense of fundamental ownership over the fiction material. The crux of the method is to give performers the maximum amount of freedom to determine as many variables as possible in the production (storyline, casting, costumes, mise-en-scene, improvisation on set). Whenever possible, I let them direct each other, and used my cameras to document their process of creation. My role was primarily that of provocateur, challenging them to remember the events they were performing more deeply, encouraging them to intervene and direct each other when they felt a performance was superficial, and asking questions between takes – both about what actually happened, but also about how they felt at the time, and how they felt as they re-enacted it.

    We shot in long takes, so that situations could evolve organically, and with minimal intervention from ourselves. I felt the most significant event unfolding in front of the cameras was the act of transformation itself, particularly because this transformation was usually plagued by conflict, misgivings, and other imperfections that seemed to reveal more about the nature of power, violence, and fantasy than more conventional documentary or investigative methods. For this same reason, we also filmed the pre-production of fiction scenes, including castings, script meetings, and costume fittings. Make-up sessions too were important spaces of reflection and transformation, moments where the characters slip down the rabbit hole of self-invention.

    In addition, because we never knew when the characters would refuse to take the process further, or when we might get in trouble with the military, we filmed each scene as though it might be the last, and also everything leading up to them (not only for the reasons above), because often we didn’t know if the dramatization itself would actually happen. We also felt that the stories we were hearing – stories of crimes against humanity never before recorded – were of world historical importance. More than anything else, these are two reasons why this method generated so many hours of footage (indeed, we have created a vast audio-visual archive about the Indonesian massacres. This archive has been the basis of a four-year United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council project called Genocide and Genre).

    After almost every dramatization, we would screen the rushes back to them, and record their responses. We wanted to make sure they knew how they appeared on film, and to use the screening to trigger further reflection. Sometimes, screenings provoked feelings of remorse (as when Anwar watches himself play the victim during a film noir scene) but, at other times, as when we screened the re-enactment of the Kampung Kolam massacre to the entire cast, the images were met with terrifying peals of laughter.

    Most interestingly, Anwar and his friends discussed, often insightfully, how other people will view the film, both in Indonesia and internationally. For example, Anwar sometimes commented on how survivors might curse him, but that “luckily” the victims haven’t the power to do anything in today’s Indonesia.

    The gangster scenes were wholly improvised. The scenarios came from the stories Anwar and his friends had told each other during earlier interviews, and during visits to the office where they killed people. The set was modeled on this interior. For maximum flexibility, our cinematographer lit the space so that Anwar and his friends could move about freely, and we filmed them with two cameras so that they could fluidly move from directing each other to improvised re-enactments to quiet, often riveting reflection after the improvisation was finished.

    For instance, Anwar re-enacted how he killed people by placing them on a table and then pulling tight a wire, from underneath the table, to garrote them. The scene exhausted him, physically and emotionally, leaving him full of doubt about the morality of what he did. Immediately after this re-enactment, he launched into a cynical and resigned rant against the growing consensus around human rights violations. Here, reality and its refraction through fiction, Anwar’s memories and his anticipation of their impact internationally, are all overlaid.

    The noir scenes were shot over a week, and culminated in an extraordinary improvisation where Anwar played the victim. Anwar’s performance was effective and, transported by the performance, the viewer empathizes with the victim, only to do a double take as they remember that Anwar is not a victim, but the killer.

    The large-scale re-enactment of the Kampung Kolam massacre was made using a similar improvisational process, with Anwar and his friends undertaking the direction. What we didn’t expect was a scene of such violence and realism; so much so that it proved genuinely frightening to the participants, all of whom were Anwar’s friends from Pancasila Youth, or their wives and children. After the scene, we filmed participants talking amongst themselves about how the location of our re-enactment was just a few hundred meters from one of North Sumatra’s countless mass graves. The woman we see fainting after the scene felt she had been possessed by a victim’s ghost. The paramilitary members (including Anwar) thought so, too. The violence of the re-enactment conjured the spectres of a deeper violence, the terrifying history of which everybody in Indonesia is somehow aware, and upon which the perpetrators have built their rarefied bubble of air conditioned shopping malls, gated communities, and “very, very limited” crystal figurines.

    The process by which we made the musical scenes (the waterfall, the giant concrete goldfish) was slightly different again. But here too Anwar was very much in the driver’s seat: he chose the songs and, along with his friends, devised both scenes. Anwar and his cast were also free to make changes as we went.

    In the end, we worked very carefully with the giant goldfish, presenting motifs from a half-forgotten dream. Anwar’s beautiful nightmare? An allegory for his storytelling confection? For his blindness? For the willful blindness by which almost all history is written, and by which, consequently, we inevitably come to know (and fail to know) ourselves? The fish changes throughout the film, but it is always a world of “eye candy”, emptiness and ghosts. If it could be explained adequately in words, we would not need it in the film.

    For the scenes written by the newspaper boss Ibrahim Sinik and his staff, Sinik enlisted the help of his friends at state television, TVRI. He borrows the TVRI regional drama studios, and recruits a soap opera crew. In these scenes, our role was largely to document Anwar and his friends as they work with the TV crew, and to catalyze and document debates between fiction set-ups. In our edited scenes, we cut from the documentary cameras to TVRI’s fiction cameras, highlighting the gap between fiction and reality – often to comic effect. But above all, we focused our cameras on moments between takes where they debated the meaning of the scene.

    The Televisi Republik Indonesia “Special Dialogue” came into being when the show’s producers realised that feared and respected paramilitary leaders making a film about the genocide was a big story (they came to know about our work because we were using the TVRI studios.) After their grotesque chat show was broadcast, there was no critical response in North Sumatra whatsoever. This is not to say that the show will not be shocking to Indonesians. For reasons discussed in my director’s statement, North Sumatrans are more accustomed than Jakartans, for example, to the boasting of perpetrators (who in Sumatra were recruited from the ranks of gangsters – and the basis of gangsters’ power, after all, lies in being feared).

    Moreover, virtually nobody in Medan dares to criticise Pancasila Youth and men like Anwar Congo and Ibrahim Sinik. Ironically, the only significant reaction to the talk show’s broadcast came from the Indonesian Actors’ Union. According to Anwar, a representative of the union visiting family in Medan came to Anwar’s house to ask him if he would consider being president of the North Sumatra branch of the union. According to Anwar, the union was angry that such a large-scale production had occurred in North Sumatra without their knowing about it. Luckily, Anwar had the humility to tell them that he is not an actor, that he was playing himself in scenes made for a documentary, and therefore would decline the offer.

    Anwar and his friends knew that their fiction scenes were only being made for our documentary, and this will be clear to the audience, too. But at the same time, if these scenes were to offer genuine insights, it was vital that the filmmaking project was one in which they were deeply invested, and one over which they felt ownership.

    The Act of Killing : don’t give an Oscar to this snuff movie | Nick Fraser | Film | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/23/act-of-killing-dont-give-oscar-snuff-movie-indonesia

    It has won over critics but this tasteless film teaches us nothing and merely indulges the unrepentant butchers of Indonesia

    The Act of Killing won the documentary prize at the Baftas last week and is the favourite to win the much-coveted Oscar. I watch many documentaries on behalf of the BBC each year and I go to festivals. I’m a doc obsessive. By my own, not quite reliable reckoning, I’ve been asked by fans to show The Act of Killing on the BBC at least five times. I’ve never encountered a film greeted by such extreme responses – both those who say it is among the best films and those who tell me how much they hate it. Much about the film puzzles me. I am still surprised by the fact that so many critics listed it among their favourite films of last year.

    For those who haven’t seen the film, it investigates the circumstances in which half-a-million Indonesian leftists were murdered in the 1960s, at the instigation of a government that is still in power. You might think this is a recondite subject, worthy of a late-night screening for insomniacs or atrocity buffs on BBC4, but, no, the film-maker Joshua Oppenheimer has made the subject viewable by enlisting the participation of some of the murderers. He spent some years hanging out with them, to his credit luring them into confessions. But he also, more dubiously, enlisted their help in restaging their killings. Although one of them, the grandfatherly Anwar, shows mild symptoms of distress towards the end of the film, they live in a state of impunity and it is thus, coddled and celebrated in their old age, that we revisit them.

    So let me be as upfront as I can. I dislike the aesthetic or moral premise of The Act of Killing. I find myself deeply opposed to the film. Getting killers to script and restage their murders for the benefit of a cinema or television audience seems a bad idea for a number of reasons. I find the scenes where the killers are encouraged to retell their exploits, often with lip-smacking expressions of satisfaction, upsetting not because they reveal so much, as many allege, but because they tell us so little of importance. Of course murderers, flattered in their impunity, will behave vilely. Of course they will reliably supply enlightened folk with a degraded vision of humanity. But, sorry, I don’t feel we want to be doing this. It feels wrong and it certainly looks wrong to me. Something has gone missing here. How badly do we want to hear from these people, after all? Wouldn’t it be better if we were told something about the individuals whose lives they took?

    I’d feel the same if film-makers had gone to rural Argentina in the 1950s, rounding up a bunch of ageing Nazis and getting them to make a film entitled “We Love Killing Jews”. Think of other half-covered-up atrocities – in Bosnia, Rwanda, South Africa, Israel, any place you like with secrets – and imagine similar films had been made. Consider your response – and now consider whether such goings-on in Indonesia are not acceptable merely because the place is so far away, and so little known or talked about that the cruelty of such an act can pass uncriticised.

    The film does not in any recognisable sense enhance our knowledge of the 1960s Indonesian killings, and its real merits – the curiosity when it comes to uncovering the Indonesian cult of anticommunism capable of masking atrocity, and the good and shocking scenes with characters from the Indonesian elite, still whitewashing the past – are obscured by tasteless devices. At the risk of being labelled a contemporary prude or dismissed as a stuffy upholder of middle-class taste, I feel that no one should be asked to sit through repeated demonstrations of the art of garrotting. Instead of an investigation, or indeed a genuine recreation, we’ve ended somewhere else – in a high-minded snuff movie.

    What I like most about documentary film is that anything can be made to work, given a chance. You can mix up fact and fiction, past and present. You can add to cold objectivity a degree of empathy. You will, of course, lie to reluctant or recalcitrant participants, in particular when they wish not to divulge important pieces of information. And trickery has its place, too. But documentary films have emerged from the not inconsiderable belief that it’s good to be literal as well as truthful. In a makeshift, fallible way, they tell us what the world is really like. Documentaries are the art of the journeyman. They can be undone by too much ambition. Too much ingenious construction and they cease to represent the world, becoming reflected images of their own excessively stated pretensions.

    In his bizarrely eulogistic piece defending The Act of Killing (of which he is an executive producer), Errol Morris, the documentary maker, compares the film to Hamlet’s inspired use of theatre to reveal dirty deeds at the court of Denmark. But Hamlet doesn’t really believe that theatrical gestures can stand in for reality. Nor, we must assume, did his creator. A more apt analogy than Morris’s might come from Shakespeare’s darkest play, Macbeth. What would we think if Macbeth and his scheming wife were written out of the action, replaced by those low-level thugs paid to do bad business on their behalf? We might conclude that putting them centre stage, in the style of The Act of Killing, was indeed perverse and we’d be right.

    There are still half-forgotten, heavily whitewashed atrocities from the last century, such as the Bengali famine allowed to occur during the second world war through the culpably racist inattention of British officials; the never wholly cleared-up question of Franco’s mass killings; or the death of so many millions in the 1950s as a consequence of Mao’s catastrophic utopianism. Those wondering how to record such events will no doubt watch The Act of Killing, but I hope they will also look at less hyped, more modestly conceived depictions of mass murder. In Enemies of the People (2010), the Cambodian journalist Thet Sambath goes after the murderers of the Khmer Rouge. He finds Pol Pot’s sidekick, but it is the earnest, touching quest of Sambath himself that lingers in the mind, rather than the empty encounters with evil-doers. Atrocity is both banal and ultimately impossible to comprehend.

    Writing in 1944, Arthur Koestler was among the first to gain knowledge of the slaughter of eastern European Jews and he estimated that the effect of such revelations was strictly limited, lasting only minutes or days and swiftly overcome by indifference. Koestler suggested that there was only one way we could respond to the double atrocity of mass murder and contemporary indifference and that was by screaming.

    I’m grateful to The Act of Killing not because it’s a good film, or because it deserves to win its Oscar (I don’t think it does), but because it reminds me of the truth of Koestler’s observation. What’s not to scream about?

    Nick Fraser is editor of the BBC’s Storyville documentary series

    #film #documentaire #Indonésie #hécatombe

  • #shutdown, ça devient sérieux ! la justice fédérale, à la demande de groupes de protection de l’environnement et de villes côtières – qui s’opposent massivement à la récente autorisation de reprise de l’exploration offshore –, bloque la délivrance de nouveaux permis d’exploration sismique en mer…

    Le plus comique, le gouvernement a demandé un surseoir à statuer en arguant… de l’impossibilité de préparer sa défense du fait du shutdown !

    U.S. judge blocks Atlantic seismic oil permitting during shutdown | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-shutdown-oil-exploration-idUSKCN1PC2N8

    A federal court judge on Friday ruled that the federal government cannot process seismic testing permits for offshore oil drilling during the ongoing government shutdown, dealing a blow Trump administration’s energy agenda.

    Judge Richard Gergel of the U.S. District Court in South Carolina issued the decision in response to a motion filed by a range of conservation and business groups and coastal cities opposed to the administration’s efforts to expand U.S. offshore drilling.

    The Justice Department had sought a delay in the court proceedings arguing that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case during the shutdown.

    Gergel said in his decision that he would grant the stay, but said federal authorities cannot work on seismic permitting until the government re-opens and is funded.

  • Drone footage reveals hundreds of abandoned Turkish chateaux at Burj Al Babas
    https://www.dezeen.com/2019/01/18/drone-abandoned-turkish-chateau-burj-al-babas

    Approximately halfway between Turkey’s largest city Istanbul and its capital Ankara, the Burj Al Babas development will contain 732 identical mini chateaux when, or if, it completes.

    Au premier regard j’ai cru à des maquettes, mais non !

    #architecture #lotissement

    • Vraiment ? Pas un fake ? Y’a d’autres sources ? Google maps ?
      Parce qu’ un château, c’est bien quand t’es seul. La non seulement tu te tapes des voisins mais en plus, t’as la même baraque que les autres, autant vivre à la Courneuve.
      Une Ferrari c’est bien si le parking du supermarché n’en est pas rempli. Sinon ça devient du mauvais goût, comme là.

    • non pas du tout fake

      #Talia_Saray_Villa

      gg:Maps
      https://www.google.fr/maps/place/Burj+Al+Babas+Villa/@40.4450213,31.1973133,1129m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x14cd368170cadda5:0x1c3af436b3407cb!8m2!3d40.462581!

      gg:Images

      présenté comme un "projet hôtelier", je crois (mais ce n’est pas très clair) que les pavillons sont destinés à des investisseurs, non pour une gestion directe des locations.

      Talia Saray Project » Burj Global Group
      http://burjglobalgroup.com/property/talia-saray-project

      DESCRIPTION
      Burj Global Real Estate Group Launches Talia Saray Project (Talia Sarai) for Royal Villas (1/5/2017)

      The resort is located in Modorno district of the Polo Turkish state Which is one of the most attractive natural areas for tourists and it is two hours from Istanbul and an hour and  a half from the capital Ankara, an hour from Sabanga, a lively area of ??nature and sulfuric water (therapeutic)  at 860 meters above sea level, where fresh air and 25 degrees Summer degree.

      The area is characterized by a tourist atmosphere in the summer and winter, where tourists go for recreation and  relax with therapeutic water. The Talia Saray project is the company’s sixth project in this region.

      The resort is equipped with all hotel services / large commercial mall / 8 natural and industrial lakes  / restaurants and cafés throughout the resort / indoor and open swimming pools for women and men for privacy / Hotel / children daycare / Mosques / Hospital / Cinema / Spa Jacuzzi & Sauna / Horseback Riding /
      Thermal Water Swimming Pool / Heliport / Aqua Park / Golf Land / Soccer courts, Basketball, Tennis /  Artificial river / Golf cars for mobility within the project / Trips to Istanbul / Maintenance /  Guarding and security 24 hours a week /

      The project consists of 350 villas designed in classic style. The interior of the villa is 300 square meters. Divided into two floors. The ground floor consists of three open living rooms (can be two bedrooms), a dining room,  a kitchen with a bathroom and rooms, a Jacuzzi and steam room with thermal water, with a terrace that can be  turned into a diwaniya and a back terrace overlooking the villa’s back garden. The first floor consists of three bedrooms (one of them master room) and two bathrooms with a large terrace  and a balcony overlooking the lakes in the resort, villas also feature modern furnishings and  full luxurious decor in keeping with the villa’s exterior design.

      The villa garden is organized in an engineering style, decorated with flowers and enjoys full privacy.  A private outdoor swimming pool can also be set up for the villa.
      The land area of each villa ranges from 320 meters to 669 square meters registered under the title deed,  and most of the sites are characterized by the presence of pleas for the right of use of owners villas.

      Delivery date 2019
      Payment methods cash or installments up to Three-year

    • Faillite en novembre 2018, donc…
      –> #ghost_town !


      Partially completed chateau-like houses in the project
      Source: Sarot Group/Burj Al Babas/Facebook

      Customers from Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia snapped up 350 of the villas, according to Hurriyet, at a going rate of $370,000 to $530,000. They specifically asked for the chateau-like design, according to the project’s consulting architect, Naci Yoruk.

      Sarot Group Chairman Mehmet Emin Yerdelen blamed his predicament on deadbeat clients.

      We couldn’t get about 7.5 million dollars receivables for the villas we have sold to Gulf countries,Hurriyet quoted Yerdelen as saying. “We applied for bankruptcy protection but the court ruled for bankruptcy. We will appeal the ruling.

      The group finished building 587 villas before it applied for bankruptcy protection.

      Although the court ordered the group to stop construction immediately, Yerdelen is still hopeful.

      Investisseurs défaillants du Golfe…

    • article non daté, mais très certainement du 5/12/2018 vu le numéro de la page…
      (et modifié après puisqu’il reprend une annonce du 16/09/2019

      Bonne nouvelle, le groupe serait plutôt sous redressement judiciaire et a été autorisé à poursuivre la commercialisation des pavillons et châteaux…

      http://i.hurimg.com/i/hdn/75/650x650/5bfbcf4567b0a820a05ea3fd

      http://i.hurimg.com/i/hdn/75/650x650/5bfbcf4867b0a820a05ea3ff

      A lawsuit had been filed against the developers of the Burj Al Babas housing project on grounds that the company destroyed trees and dumped excavated soil on forestland in the district of Mudurnu in the northwestern province of Bolu.

      With the criminal case continuing in the Mudurnu court and the company also appealing the court-declared bankruptcy in Istanbul, the firm’s chairman Mehmet Emin Yerdelen told Demirören News Agency on Jan. 16 that the sale of the villas resumed because the Bankruptcy Directorate allowed it.

      Our companies are currently operating in normal conditions under judicial control. Our sales and construction works continue as part of our resumed commercial activities,” he said.
      […]
      But the court now decided on bankruptcy. That was a wrong decision. The total value of the project is about $200 million. We will object to this decision. We still have 250 villas completed and ready to go on sale. Selling only 100 of them would be enough to pay off the debts and complete the project,” Mehmet Emin Yerdelen, the chair of the Sarot Group, told daily Hürriyet.

  • Encrypted Messaging Apps Have Limitations You Should Know | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/story/encrypted-messaging-isnt-magic

    Signal, WIRED’s secure messaging recommendation, is open source, but it also proved its trustworthiness in a 2016 case where the service was subpoenaed. Developer Open Whisper Systems responded to a grand jury subpoena saying it could only produce the time an account was created and the most recent date that a user’s Signal app connected to its servers. The court had asked for significantly more detail like user names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses. Signal had retained none of it.

    More is Less: On the End-to-End Security of Group Chats in
    Signal, WhatsApp, and Threema
    https://eprint.iacr.org/2017/713.pdf

    #sécurité #vie_privée #communication #instant_messaging

  • UK sending Syrians back to countries where they were beaten and abused

    Refugees tell of being held in cages and even tortured in European countries including Hungary and Romania

    Britain is using EU rules to send asylum seekers from Syria and other countries back to eastern European states where they were beaten, incarcerated and abused, the Guardian has learned.

    Migrant rights groups and lawyers say the Home Office is using the rules to send people back to “police brutality, detention and beatings” in several European countries.

    The Guardian has spoken to refugees who were subjected to assaults as they travelled through Europe. The men tell of being held in “cages” in Hungary, waterboarded and handcuffed to beds by detention centre guards in Romania and beaten in Bulgaria.
    Britain is one of worst places in western Europe for asylum seekers
    Read more

    They now face being returned to those countries as, under the so-called Dublin law, asylum seekers are supposed to apply in their first EU country of entry.

    In 2015 more than 80,000 requests were made by EU countries for another government to take back an asylum seeker. The UK made 3,500 of these requests to countries around Europe, including Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Hungary.

    The Home Office claims it should be entitled to assume that any EU country will treat asylum seekers properly.

    The charity Migrant Voice has collected testimony from several refugees who are fighting removal from the UK to other European countries. Nazek Ramadan, the director of the charity, said the men had been left traumatised by their journey and their subsequent treatment in the UK.

    “We know there are hundreds of Syrians in the UK who have fingerprints in other European countries,” said Ramadan. “Many no longer report to the Home Office because they are afraid of being detained and deported away from their family in the UK. Those who have been forcibly removed often end up destitute.

    “These are people who were abused in their home country, sometimes jailed by the regime there. Then they were imprisoned again in Europe. They feel that they are still living in a war zone, moving from one arrest and detention to another.”

    The law firm Duncan Lewis recently won a key case preventing forced removals back to Hungary because of the risk that people might be forced from there back to their country of origin.

    The firm is also challenging removals to Bulgaria because of what the UN refugee agency has described as “substandard” conditions there. A test case on whether Bulgaria is a safe country to send people back to is due to be heard by the court of appeal in November.

    The situation could get even more complex as an EU ban on sending asylum seekers back to Greece is due to be lifted on Wednesday after a six-year moratorium.

    Krisha Prathepan, of Duncan Lewis, said: “We intend to challenge any resumption of returns to Greece, as that country’s asylum system remains dysfunctional and the risk of refugees being returned from Greece to the very countries in which they faced persecution remains as high as ever.”

    The Home Office says it has no immediate plans to send refugees back to Greece, but is following European guidelines.

    “We have no current plans to resume Dublin returns to Greece,” a spokesperson said, citing among other reasons “the reception conditions in the country”.

    She added: “In April 2016, the high court ruled that transfer to Bulgaria under the Dublin regulation would not breach the European Convention on Human Rights. If there is evidence that Bulgaria is responsible for an asylum application, we will seek to transfer the application.”

    Mohammad Nadi Ismail, 32, Syrian

    Mohammad Nadi Ismail, a former Syrian navy captain, entered Europe via Bulgaria and Hungary, hoping to join his uncle and brother in Britain.

    In Bulgaria he was detained, beaten and humiliated. “They stripped us and made us stand in a row all naked. We had to bend over in a long line. Then they hit us on our private parts with truncheons.

    “They would wake us at night after they had been playing cards and drinking. Then they would come and hit us or kick us with their boots or truncheons.”

    One day he was released and took his chance to leave, walking for days to reach Hungary.

    But in Hungary he was locked up again. “They took us to a courtyard of a big building where there were five or six cages, about 8ft [2.4 metres] square. Most of the people were African. Some of them had been in there for four or five days. Luckily we Syrians were allowed out after one night and I headed for the UK.”

    In the UK Ismail met up with the family he hadn’t seen for three years and applied for asylum immediately.

    Then a letter came, saying his fingerprints had been found in Bulgaria and he would be returned. After a month in detention he now reports every two weeks, waiting and hoping that the UK will let him stay.

    “I will not go back to Bulgaria. I still have hope that I can stay here legally and rebuild my life with my family who have always supported me,” he said.

    ‘Dawoud’, 34, Iranian

    Dawoud (not his real name) was 28 when he fled Iran after his political activities had made him an enemy of the government. His brother and parents made it to the UK and were given refugee status.

    When he was told by border guards that he was in Romania he had no idea what that meant. “I had never even heard of this country,” he said. He was put in a camp where “water dripped through the electrics – we were electrocuted often. Children and families screamed. We lived in fear of the wild dogs who circled the camp, attacking and biting us. We were given no food; we had to go through bins in the town nearby for scraps.”

    He escaped once, to the Netherlands, but was sent back.

    “I experienced several beatings, on all parts of the body. There were people covered in blood and they were refused medical help. They even waterboarded me. I thought I would die.”

    Finally he managed to reach his mother, father and brother in the UK. For two years he has lived in hiding, too scared to apply for asylum for fear of being sent back to Romania. But a few months ago he finally reported to the Home Office. A letter informed him that a request had been made to Romania to take him back.

    Dawoud shakes as he talks about his fear of removal, saying: “When I hear people speak Romanian in the street it brings back my trauma. I once fell to the ground shaking just hearing someone speak. I will kill myself rather than go back.”

    Wael al-Awadi, 36, Syrian

    Wael travelled by sea to Italy and was detained on arrival in Sicily. “They hit us with their fists and sticks in order to make us give our fingerprints. Then they let us go. They gave us nothing, no accommodation, just told us: ‘Go where you like.’ So many Syrians were sleeping in the streets.”

    When he reached the UK he was detained for two months before friends helped him get bail. A year and a half later, when reporting at the Home Office, he was detained again and booked on to a plane to Italy.

    He refused to go and a solicitor got him out on bail. His appeal is due to be heard later this year. “I left Syria to avoid jail and detention and here I have been locked up twice,” he said. “I can’t understand it. Why can’t they look at me with some humanity? I am mentally so tired. My children call me from Syria but I can’t speak to them any more. It is too painful.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/12/the-refugees-uk-wants-to-send-back-to-countries-where-they-were-abused?
    #réfugiés_syriens #UK #Angleterre #Dublin #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Bulgarie #Roumanie #Hongrie #Italie #renvois #expulsions #renvois_Dublin

  • https://www.defenseurdesdroits.fr/fr/communique-de-presse/2018/12/le-defenseur-des-droits-publie-son-rapport-exiles-et-droits

    Le Défenseur des droits publie son rapport « Exilés et droits fondamentaux, trois ans après le rapport Calais »

    À défaut d’une politique nationale assurant un véritable accueil des primo-arrivants, les collectivités locales et les associations caritatives sont contraintes d’agir seules, dans un contexte où se maintient une pénalisation de certains actes de solidarité. Le Défenseur des droits recommande donc d’élargir l’immunité pénale à tous les actes apportés dans un but humanitaire.

    Outre les effets de la politique migratoire de l’Union européenne qui contribuent à réduire de manière drastique les voies légales d’immigration en Europe, l’’externalisation de la frontière britannique en France demeure l’une des principales causes de la reconstitution des campements de fortune à Calais, Grande-Synthe ou Ouistreham, puisqu’elle empêche les exilés qui le souhaitent d’atteindre la Grande-Bretagne. Le Défenseur des droits recommande donc au gouvernement de dénoncer les accords conclus avec la Grande-Bretagne.

    #police #dublin #touquet #noborder #calais #état #raciste

    • Migrants : le Défenseur des droits dénonce une « dégradation » dans les campements depuis 2015

      Le Défenseur des droits Jacques Toubon a dénoncé mercredi une « dégradation » de la situation sanitaire et sociale des migrants vivant sur des campements en France depuis trois ans, avec « des atteintes sans précédents aux droits fondamentaux ».

      Face à une politique « non-accueil », les migrants « se retrouvent dans un état de dénuement extrême, dépourvus de tout abri et ayant comme première préoccupation celle de subvenir à leurs besoins vitaux : boire, se nourrir, se laver », déplore Toubon dans un rapport sur les campements de Calais, Paris, Grande-Synthe (Nord) et Ouistreham (Calvados). « Les difficultés à trouver des solutions durables aggravent le phénomène », estime-il, en déplorant des « stratégies de dissuasion et d’invisibilisation sur le territoire national menées par les pouvoirs publics ».

      En 2015 déjà, Toubon avait dénoncé dans un rapport sévère la situation des migrants dans le bidonville de la « Jungle » à Calais, qui comptait alors plus de 4 000 personnes, et a été démantelé depuis, de même que les grands campements parisiens.

      Mais « la situation s’est en réalité nettement dégradée », note le Défenseur, qui pointe les opérations d’évacuation régulièrement menées par les pouvoirs publics. « Loin d’être conformes aux exigences du droit à un hébergement inconditionnel », ces mises à l’abri « contribuent à la constitution de nouveaux campements » par leur caractère « non durable », assure-t-il dans ce document reprenant divers avis rendus depuis 2015.

      Toubon déplore aussi, pour ces mises à l’abri, le recours à des centres pour étrangers fonctionnant « comme des centres de transit » avec « des critères de tri ». « En lieu et place d’une véritable politique d’accueil, les pouvoirs publics ont préféré mettre en œuvre une politique essentiellement fondée sur la police des étrangers, reflétant une forme de +criminalisation des migrations », assure-t-il dans ce rapport publié au lendemain

      Il s’inquiète particulièrement des méthodes policières, avec des évacuations « pour empêcher tout nouveau point de fixation » et des contrôles d’identité « pour contrôler le droit au séjour ». « Pour servir ces opérations, différentes pratiques ont pu être observées telles que l’usage de gaz lacrymogène », assure-t-il dans ce rapport publié au lendemain de la journée internationale des migrants.

      Faisant état d’« une détérioration sans précédent de la santé des exilés », avec un « développement inquiétant des troubles psychiques », il s’inquiète particulièrement pour les mineurs, « laissés à leur sort » en raison du caractère « largement inadapté et sous-dimensionné des dispositifs » existants.

      Dans ce contexte Toubon souligne le rôle des collectivités locales « contraintes d’agir », et celui des associations qui « se substituent de plus en plus fréquemment aux pouvoirs publics » mais « sont de plus en plus empêchées d’agir ». Le Défenseur déplore enfin des « entraves persistantes à l’entrée dans la procédure d’asile » qui « viennent grossir les rangs des exilés contraints de vivre dans la clandestinité ».

      Mettant en garde contre une « logique d’externalisation de la gestion des flux migratoires », il formule plusieurs propositions, dont la suspension du règlement de Dublin confiant au pays d’enregistrement l’examen de la demande d’asile.

      https://www.liberation.fr/france/2018/12/19/migrants-le-defenseur-des-droits-denonce-une-degradation-dans-les-campeme

    • France: Police harassing, intimidating and even using violence against people helping refugees

      French authorities have harassed, intimidated and even violently assaulted people offering humanitarian aid and other support to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in northern France in a deliberate attempt to curtail acts of solidarity, a new report by Amnesty International has found.

      Targeting solidarity: Criminalization and harassment of people defending migrant and refugee rights in northern France reveals how people helping refugees and migrants in #Calais and #Grand-Synthe are targeted by the police and the court system.

      “Providing food to the hungry and warmth to the homeless have become increasingly risky activities in northern France, as the authorities regularly target people offering help to migrants and refugees,” said Lisa Maracani, Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defenders Researcher.

      “Migrants and refugees did not simply disappear with the demolition of the ‘Jungle’ camp in 2016 and more than a thousand men, women and children are still living precarious lives in the area. The role of human rights defenders who offer them support is crucial.”

      Two-and-a-half years after the destruction of the so-called ‘Jungle’ camp, more than 1,200 refugees and migrants, including unaccompanied children, are living in tents and informal camps around Calais and Grande-Synthe. They have no regular access to food, water, sanitation, shelter or legal assistance and are subject to evictions, harassment, and violence at the hands of the police.

      One Afghan man told Amnesty International that he was beaten on his back with a baton by police during a forced eviction, and another described how a police officer had urinated on his tent. An Iranian man told Amnesty International: “I left my country looking for safety, but here I face police abuse…The police come every day to take my tent and clothes.”

      The number of camps and tents destroyed in Calais and Grande-Synthe increased last year, with 391 evictions carried out in the first five months of 2019 alone. Once evicted, migrants and refugees are at increased risk of violence and abuse. One local woman who provides migrants with help, told Amnesty International that she witnessed police spray migrants with teargas in the face while they were sleeping in her garden.

      Verbal and physical abuse part of daily routine

      The increased number of evictions is a consequence of France’s “no attachment points” policy, which attempts to deter people from staying in the area by ensuring that camps are not set up. While authorities have put in place an outreach service to enable refugees and migrants access reception centres and asylum offices in France, these centres are a long way from Calais and Grande-Synthe and sometimes there is not enough capacity to accommodate them. In order to alleviate their suffering, human rights defenders have attempted to fill the gap and provide the essential support and services that the French state is failing to offer.

      Instead of recognizing the importance of their work, authorities have obstructed, intimidated, harassed and in some cases started baseless prosecutions and even used violence.

      Several human rights defenders told Amnesty International that acts of intimidation, threats of arrest and abuse have become “part and parcel of their daily work.” One humanitarian worker told Amnesty International that she was violently pushed to the ground and choked by police in June 2018 after she had filmed four officers chasing a foreign national in Calais.

      A report last year by four organisations found that there had been 646 instances of police harassment and abuse against volunteers between November 2017 and June 2018. There have been 72 recorded instances this year, but the real figure is likely to be much higher.

      Eleonore Vigny who took part in the Human Rights Observers project in Calais said that intimidation of volunteers had spiked last summer, with police employing new harassment techniques. “In April and May 2018 there were several body searches, especially of female volunteers, sometimes done by male officers. There was also an escalation in insults, and people have been pushed, sometimes to the ground…Recently we received more threats of legal suits, and threats of arrests.”

      When reporting mistreatment of refugees, migrants, and human rights defenders, complainants say that they are not taken seriously. Charlotte Head, a volunteer who made several complaints about police behaviour to the police’s internal investigatory body, was warned that her complaints were “defamatory in character” and could constitute a “crime”.

      One local human rights organization, Cabane Juridique, filed more than 60 complaints to different authorities and bodies between January 2016 and April 2019. In May 2019, the French Ministry of Justice told Amnesty International that regional courts had received just 11 complaints since 2016, and only one was being investigated by prosecutors.

      Stress, anxiety and the fear of prosecution

      Human rights defenders told Amnesty International that they feel the pressure on them is increasing and having a negative impact on all aspects of their lives. Some have experienced insomnia, stress and anxiety whilst others describe the impact of prosecutions as debilitating.

      Loan Torondel who had been working in Calais told Amnesty International: “I feel that I am caught between the acute needs of people I am trying to help and the intimidation of French authorities who are trying to hamper humanitarian activities and label our activities as crimes. This is not a sustainable working environment for us, and it is the people we help who pay the consequences."

      One human rights defender told Amnesty International: “For the volunteers it’s very difficult. They are scared. We brief them on security and the context and they get scared. We struggle to recruit new volunteers.”

      But despite the harassment, many of those interviewed by Amnesty International are determined to carry on with their vital work. One local volunteer told Amnesty International that she is thankful for the presence of the migrants and refugees: “They have made us more human, they have enriched our lives.”

      “Rather than attempting to make the lives of migrants and refugees as difficult as possible, French authorities should take concrete measures to alleviate their suffering and provide shelter and support to all those living on the streets,” said Lisa Maracani.

      “It is also time to defend the defenders. Rather than treating human rights defenders as the enemy, the authorities should see them as a vital ally, and celebrate acts of solidarity and compassion rather than criminalizing them.”

      BACKGROUND

      Human rights violations faced by human rights defenders must be viewed within the context of the treatment of the people whose rights they defend. It is essential that the rights of refugees and migrants are respected. This means improving the asylum and reception system in France, providing safe and legal routes to the UK and reforming the European asylum system to remove the requirement laid down in the Dublin rules that asylum-seekers seek protection in their first country of entry.

      https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/06/france-police-harassing-intimidating-and-even-using-violence-against-people
      #France

      Le #rapport:
      https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR2103562019FRENCH.PDF

  • Rwandan refugees in Uganda may be thrown out – Minister Onek

    The government of Uganda is considering cancelling the refugee status of thousands of Rwandans living in Uganda.

    The announcement was made by the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Hillary Onek while meeting lawmakers of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Kampala.

    He explained that government is considering cancelling their refugee status and instead issuing them with temporary permits.
    “We are going to turn them over to the immigration department so that their long stay in Uganda will be subjected to immigration laws because immigration laws in Uganda say that you are given a #visa to stay for three months. Thereafter you have to justify your further stay in a country,” Mr Onek said.

    The minister said that the process of convincing Rwandans to return home has not been easy as many are not willing to do so.

    Hundreds of thousands of Rwandans fled to Uganda following the 1994 genocide.

    Rwanda has generally been peaceful for over 20 years and many Rwandese who had fled have since returned to their home country.
    But government says there are still over 14000 Rwandans still living in Uganda as refugees.

    https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Rwandan-refugees-Uganda-may-be-thrown-out-Minister-Onek/688334-4853062-ra0ok9/index.html
    #réfugiés_rwandais #ouganda #asile #migrations #réfugiés #modèle_ougandais (?) #statut_de_réfugié #renvois #expulsions

    • Abuses against Rwandan refugees in Uganda: Has Time Come for Accountability?

      For many years, Rwandan refugees in Uganda have faced abuses, including arbitrary detention, forced return to Rwanda and attacks on their physical security, without any form of accountability. However, last Friday, 24 August, former Inspector-General of the Ugandan police, General Kale Kayihura, has been charged with aiding and abetting the kidnapping and repatriation of Rwandan refugees, amongst other charges. In October last year, other security officers had already been arrested and indicted under similar charges. Is it finally time for justice?

      The case of Joel Mutabazi

      Kayihura is accused of aiding and abetting the kidnapping of Rwandan refugees Joel Mutabazi, Jackson Karemera and Innocent Kalisa by Ugandan police officers. Six Ugandan police officers, one Rwandan security officer and one Congolese individual are on trial for their involvement in the abduction and forced return of Mutabazi. A senior police who had been arrested earlier in connection to this case has since been released.

      Joel Mutabazi, a former bodyguard of Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, had been arrested in April 2010 in Rwanda and detained and tortured in military custody for his suspected links with opposition groups. After he was released in October 2011, Mutabazi fled to Uganda, where he was granted refugee status. In 2013, he was abducted from a UNHCR safe house near Uganda’s capital Kampala, and taken back to Rwanda. Mutabazi’s whereabouts were unknown for several days, until the Rwandan police stated that he was in their custody. UNHCR, which failed to protect Mutabazi, expressed its concern over the breach of the principle of non-refoulement and called for accountability.

      In 2014, a Rwandan military court sentenced Mutabazi to life in prison, including for forming an armed group and for terrorism. His younger brother, Jackson Karemera, and another co-accused, Innocent Kalisa, also lived in Uganda before the trial and were themselves abducted back to Rwanda. They were sentenced respectively to four months and 25 years in prison. Karemera was rearrested after his release, his family hasn’t heard from him since. All three said during the trial they had been tortured in detention in Rwanda, but the court did not order an investigation into those allegations.

      Abuses against Rwandan refugees

      The illegal transfer of Mutabazi and his co-accused to Rwanda was not an isolated case. Over the years, including more recently, International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) has received several reports about threats, illegal arrests, attacks and forced returns of Rwandan refugees in Uganda. Many of such cases remain unreported, given the secrecy surrounding such abuses and the fear of reprisals, and are difficult to confirm. A few examples include:

      In July 2010, Rwandan refugees were forcibly removed en masse from refugee settlements in south-western Uganda to Rwanda. Ugandan police officers used live rounds, wounding several in the process, to force refugees onto buses which dropped them in Rwanda.
      In November 2011, Charles Ingabire, a Rwandan journalist, was murdered when he left a bar in Kampala. He was a fierce government critic who had obtained refugee status in Uganda. An investigation was opened, but to date, nobody has been charged for involvement in this crime.
      In 2017, according to judicial documents, a Rwandan refugee was illegally detained for almost two months in Kireka police station in Kampala, and threatened with return to Rwanda, on the basis of his alleged involvement in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Rwanda and Uganda do not have an extradition treaty. He was never charged and was eventually released.
      Multiple sources confirmed to IRRI that on 20 December 2017, five Rwandan nationals were arrested in Mbarara, and one in Kampala. They were detained incommunicado for several days and allegedly tortured. Five of them were driven to the border with Rwanda nine days later and deported. According to Uganda’s army spokesperson, one was not deported because of her refugee status, and remained in incommunicado detention.

      In addition to abuses against refugees, there have been several allegations, in the past year, of abuses against Rwandan nationals residing in Uganda. According to several sources, two Rwandan citizens were arrested in Uganda, respectively on 9 November 2017 and 3 January 2018, and detained incommunicado before being sent back to Rwanda. The first says he was tortured, which was confirmed to IRRI by a source knowledgeable about the case on 24 January 2018: “He was beaten up and tortured… and dumped at the border with Rwanda. He couldn’t walk and barely could talk.” The other man also reported to the media that he was tortured before being taken to the border with Rwanda.

      For none of these cases has there been any apparent effort to provide meaningful accountability. Other reports have been difficult to verify, but as a consequence of such events, Rwandan refugees in Uganda continue to fear for their safety. Rwanda and Uganda have had close but turbulent bilateral relations in recent years, and many connections remain between individuals within the countries security services. There have, however, been reports that relations between the two countries have deteriorated.

      Many interpreted the decision by Uganda, in early 2018, not to invoke a cessation clause against the more than 15,000 Rwandan refugees still currently living in Uganda as an illustration of this dynamic. This cessation clause, if invoked, would have forced refugees who fled Rwanda before 31 December 1998 to return to Rwanda, reapply for refugee protection or acquire citizenship in their country of exile. Seven countries have already begun implementing the cessation clause.

      Concerns about right to a fair trial

      While the arrested officers have themselves been accused of involvement in human rights violations, their own right to a fair trial and lawful detention seemed to have also been in jeopardy since their arrest. The arrest of General Kale Kayihura seems to have violated legal provisions on judicial review and detention terms. According to judicial documents and interviews with several people knowledgeable of the case, at least one of the accused in the trial against senior police officials has been detained incommunicado and tortured, in an attempt to extract testimony against other senior figures. Court documents show that the court told a bail applicant to edit out details of torture, but on 31 January 2018 a judge ordered an investigation into torture allegations. There have also been concerns about the prosecution of civilian suspects in a military court, a common practice in Uganda, and about settling scores within the security apparatus.

      These trials against former senior Ugandan security officials could send a welcome signal to Rwandan refugees that abuses against them will be no longer tolerated. But justice can only be done if arrests and trials are conducted in accordance with standards in Ugandan and international law. More efforts must be done to end ongoing abuses against Rwandan refugees, and bring all perpetrators to account.

      http://refugee-rights.org/abuses-against-rwandan-refugees-in-uganda-has-time-come-for-accounta
      #abus

  • Cheap Words | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/17/cheap-words

    Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S. Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. All these streams and tributaries make Amazon something radically new in the history of American business.

    Recently, Amazon even started creating its own “content”—publishing books. The results have been decidedly mixed. A monopoly is dangerous because it concentrates so much economic power, but in the book business the prospect of a single owner of both the means of production and the modes of distribution is especially worrisome: it would give Amazon more control over the exchange of ideas than any company in U.S. history. Even in the iPhone age, books remain central to American intellectual life, and perhaps to democracy. And so the big question is not just whether Amazon is bad for the book industry; it’s whether Amazon is bad for books.

    According to Marcus, Amazon executives considered publishing people “antediluvian losers with rotary phones and inventory systems designed in 1968 and warehouses full of crap.” Publishers kept no data on customers, making their bets on books a matter of instinct rather than metrics. They were full of inefficiences, starting with overpriced Manhattan offices. There was “a general feeling that the New York publishing business was just this cloistered, Gilded Age antique just barely getting by in a sort of Colonial Williamsburg of commerce, but when Amazon waded into this they would show publishing how it was done.”

    During the 1999 holiday season, Amazon tried publishing books, leasing the rights to a defunct imprint called Weathervane and putting out a few titles. “These were not incipient best-sellers,” Marcus writes. “They were creatures from the black lagoon of the remainder table”—Christmas recipes and the like, selected with no apparent thought. Employees with publishing experience, like Fried, were not consulted. Weathervane fell into an oblivion so complete that there’s no trace of it on the Internet. (Representatives at the company today claim never to have heard of it.) Nobody at Amazon seemed to absorb any lessons from the failure. A decade later, the company would try again.

    Around this time, a group called the “personalization team,” or P13N, started to replace editorial suggestions for readers with algorithms that used customers’ history to make recommendations for future purchases. At Amazon, “personalization” meant data analytics and statistical probability. Author interviews became less frequent, and in-house essays were subsumed by customer reviews, which cost the company nothing. Tim Appelo, the entertainment editor at the time, said, “You could be the Platonic ideal of the reviewer, and you would not beat even those rather crude early algorithms.” Amazon’s departments competed with one another almost as fiercely as they did with other companies. According to Brad Stone, a trash-talking sign was hung on a wall in the P13N office: “people forget that john henry died in the end.” Machines defeated human beings.

    In December, 1999, at the height of the dot-com mania, Time named Bezos its Person of the Year. “Amazon isn’t about technology or even commerce,” the breathless cover article announced. “Amazon is, like every other site on the Web, a content play.” Yet this was the moment, Marcus said, when “content” people were “on the way out.” Although the writers and the editors made the site more interesting, and easier to navigate, they didn’t bring more customers.

    The fact that Amazon once devoted significant space on its site to editorial judgments—to thinking and writing—would be an obscure footnote if not for certain turns in the company’s more recent history. According to one insider, around 2008—when the company was selling far more than books, and was making twenty billion dollars a year in revenue, more than the combined sales of all other American bookstores—Amazon began thinking of content as central to its business. Authors started to be considered among the company’s most important customers. By then, Amazon had lost much of the market in selling music and videos to Apple and Netflix, and its relations with publishers were deteriorating. These difficulties offended Bezos’s ideal of “seamless” commerce. “The company despises friction in the marketplace,” the Amazon insider said. “It’s easier for us to sell books and make books happen if we do it our way and not deal with others. It’s a tech-industry thing: ‘We think we can do it better.’ ” If you could control the content, you controlled everything.

    Many publishers had come to regard Amazon as a heavy in khakis and oxford shirts. In its drive for profitability, Amazon did not raise retail prices; it simply squeezed its suppliers harder, much as Walmart had done with manufacturers. Amazon demanded ever-larger co-op fees and better shipping terms; publishers knew that they would stop being favored by the site’s recommendation algorithms if they didn’t comply. Eventually, they all did. (Few customers realize that the results generated by Amazon’s search engine are partly determined by promotional fees.)

    In late 2007, at a press conference in New York, Bezos unveiled the Kindle, a simple, lightweight device that—in a crucial improvement over previous e-readers—could store as many as two hundred books, downloaded from Amazon’s 3G network. Bezos announced that the price of best-sellers and new titles would be nine-ninety-nine, regardless of length or quality—a figure that Bezos, inspired by Apple’s sale of songs on iTunes for ninety-nine cents, basically pulled out of thin air. Amazon had carefully concealed the number from publishers. “We didn’t want to let that cat out of the bag,” Steele said.

    The price was below wholesale in some cases, and so low that it represented a serious threat to the market in twenty-six-dollar hardcovers. Bookstores that depended on hardcover sales—from Barnes & Noble and Borders (which liquidated its business in 2011) to Rainy Day Books in Kansas City—glimpsed their possible doom. If reading went entirely digital, what purpose would they serve? The next year, 2008, which brought the financial crisis, was disastrous for bookstores and publishers alike, with widespread layoffs.

    By 2010, Amazon controlled ninety per cent of the market in digital books—a dominance that almost no company, in any industry, could claim. Its prohibitively low prices warded off competition.

    Publishers looked around for a competitor to Amazon, and they found one in Apple, which was getting ready to introduce the iPad, and the iBooks Store. Apple wanted a deal with each of the Big Six houses (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster) that would allow the publishers to set the retail price of titles on iBooks, with Apple taking a thirty-per-cent commission on each sale. This was known as the “agency model,” and, in some ways, it offered the publishers a worse deal than selling wholesale to Amazon. But it gave publishers control over pricing and a way to challenge Amazon’s grip on the market. Apple’s terms included the provision that it could match the price of any rival, which induced the publishers to impose the agency model on all digital retailers, including Amazon.

    Five of the Big Six went along with Apple. (Random House was the holdout.) Most of the executives let Amazon know of the change by phone or e-mail, but John Sargent flew out to Seattle to meet with four Amazon executives, including Russ Grandinetti, the vice-president of Kindle content. In an e-mail to a friend, Sargent wrote, “Am on my way out to Seattle to get my ass kicked by Amazon.”

    Sargent’s gesture didn’t seem to matter much to the Amazon executives, who were used to imposing their own terms. Seated at a table in a small conference room, Sargent said that Macmillan wanted to switch to the agency model for e-books, and that if Amazon refused Macmillan would withhold digital editions until seven months after print publication. The discussion was angry and brief. After twenty minutes, Grandinetti escorted Sargent out of the building. The next day, Amazon removed the buy buttons from Macmillan’s print and digital titles on its site, only to restore them a week later, under heavy criticism. Amazon unwillingly accepted the agency model, and within a couple of months e-books were selling for as much as fourteen dollars and ninety-nine cents.

    Amazon filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. In April, 2012, the Justice Department sued Apple and the five publishers for conspiring to raise prices and restrain competition. Eventually, all the publishers settled with the government. (Macmillan was the last, after Sargent learned that potential damages could far exceed the equity value of the company.) Macmillan was obliged to pay twenty million dollars, and Penguin seventy-five million—enormous sums in a business that has always struggled to maintain respectable profit margins.

    Apple fought the charges, and the case went to trial last June. Grandinetti, Sargent, and others testified in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan. As proof of collusion, the government presented evidence of e-mails, phone calls, and dinners among the Big Six publishers during their negotiations with Apple. Sargent and other executives acknowledged that they wanted higher prices for e-books, but they argued that the evidence showed them only to be competitors in an incestuous business, not conspirators. On July 10th, Judge Denise Cote ruled in the government’s favor.

    Apple, facing up to eight hundred and forty million dollars in damages, has appealed. As Apple and the publishers see it, the ruling ignored the context of the case: when the key events occurred, Amazon effectively had a monopoly in digital books and was selling them so cheaply that it resembled predatory pricing—a barrier to entry for potential competitors. Since then, Amazon’s share of the e-book market has dropped, levelling off at about sixty-five per cent, with the rest going largely to Apple and to Barnes & Noble, which sells the Nook e-reader. In other words, before the feds stepped in, the agency model introduced competition to the market. But the court’s decision reflected a trend in legal thinking among liberals and conservatives alike, going back to the seventies, that looks at antitrust cases from the perspective of consumers, not producers: what matters is lowering prices, even if that goal comes at the expense of competition.

    With Amazon’s patented 1-Click shopping, which already knows your address and credit-card information, there’s just you and the buy button; transactions are as quick and thoughtless as scratching an itch. “It’s sort of a masturbatory culture,” the marketing executive said. If you pay seventy-nine dollars annually to become an Amazon Prime member, a box with the Amazon smile appears at your door two days after you click, with free shipping. Amazon’s next frontier is same-day delivery: first in certain American cities, then throughout the U.S., then the world. In December, the company patented “anticipatory shipping,” which will use your shopping data to put items that you don’t yet know you want to buy, but will soon enough, on a truck or in a warehouse near you.

    Amazon employs or subcontracts tens of thousands of warehouse workers, with seasonal variation, often building its fulfillment centers in areas with high unemployment and low wages. Accounts from inside the centers describe the work of picking, boxing, and shipping books and dog food and beard trimmers as a high-tech version of the dehumanized factory floor satirized in Chaplin’s “Modern Times.” Pickers holding computerized handsets are perpetually timed and measured as they fast-walk up to eleven miles per shift around a million-square-foot warehouse, expected to collect orders in as little as thirty-three seconds. After watching footage taken by an undercover BBC reporter, a stress expert said, “The evidence shows increased risk of mental illness and physical illness.” The company says that its warehouse jobs are “similar to jobs in many other industries.”

    When I spoke with Grandinetti, he expressed sympathy for publishers faced with upheaval. “The move to people reading digitally and buying books digitally is the single biggest change that any of us in the book business will experience in our time,” he said. “Because the change is particularly big in size, and because we happen to be a leader in making it, a lot of that fear gets projected onto us.” Bezos also argues that Amazon’s role is simply to usher in inevitable change. After giving “60 Minutes” a first glimpse of Amazon drone delivery, Bezos told Charlie Rose, “Amazon is not happening to bookselling. The future is happening to bookselling.”

    In Grandinetti’s view, the Kindle “has helped the book business make a more orderly transition to a mixed print and digital world than perhaps any other medium.” Compared with people who work in music, movies, and newspapers, he said, authors are well positioned to thrive. The old print world of scarcity—with a limited number of publishers and editors selecting which manuscripts to publish, and a limited number of bookstores selecting which titles to carry—is yielding to a world of digital abundance. Grandinetti told me that, in these new circumstances, a publisher’s job “is to build a megaphone.”

    After the Kindle came out, the company established Amazon Publishing, which is now a profitable empire of digital works: in addition to Kindle Singles, it has mystery, thriller, romance, and Christian lines; it publishes translations and reprints; it has a self-service fan-fiction platform; and it offers an extremely popular self-publishing platform. Authors become Amazon partners, earning up to seventy per cent in royalties, as opposed to the fifteen per cent that authors typically make on hardcovers. Bezos touts the biggest successes, such as Theresa Ragan, whose self-published thrillers and romances have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. But one survey found that half of all self-published authors make less than five hundred dollars a year.

    Every year, Fine distributes grants of twenty-five thousand dollars, on average, to dozens of hard-up literary organizations. Beneficiaries include the pen American Center, the Loft Literary Center, in Minneapolis, and the magazine Poets & Writers. “For Amazon, it’s the cost of doing business, like criminal penalties for banks,” the arts manager said, suggesting that the money keeps potential critics quiet. Like liberal Democrats taking Wall Street campaign contributions, the nonprofits don’t advertise the grants. When the Best Translated Book Award received money from Amazon, Dennis Johnson, of Melville House, which had received the prize that year, announced that his firm would no longer compete for it. “Every translator in America wrote me saying I was a son of a bitch,” Johnson said. A few nonprofit heads privately told him, “I wanted to speak out, but I might have taken four thousand dollars from them, too.” A year later, at the Associated Writing Programs conference, Fine shook Johnson’s hand, saying, “I just wanted to thank you—that was the best publicity we could have had.” (Fine denies this.)

    By producing its own original work, Amazon can sell more devices and sign up more Prime members—a major source of revenue. While the company was building the Kindle, it started a digital store for streaming music and videos, and, around the same time it launched Amazon Publishing, it created Amazon Studios.

    The division pursued an unusual way of producing television series, using its strength in data collection. Amazon invited writers to submit scripts on its Web site—“an open platform for content creators,” as Bill Carr, the vice-president for digital music and video, put it. Five thousand scripts poured in, and Amazon chose to develop fourteen into pilots. Last spring, Amazon put the pilots on its site, where customers could review them and answer a detailed questionnaire. (“Please rate the following aspects of this show: The humor, the characters . . . ”) More than a million customers watched. Engineers also developed software, called Amazon Storyteller, which scriptwriters can use to create a “storyboard animatic”—a cartoon rendition of a script’s plot—allowing pilots to be visualized without the expense of filming. The difficulty, according to Carr, is to “get the right feedback and the right data, and, of the many, many data points that I can collect from customers, which ones can tell you, ‘This is the one’?”

    Bezos applying his “take no prisoners” pragmatism to the Post: “There are conflicts of interest with Amazon’s many contracts with the government, and he’s got so many policy issues going, like sales tax.” One ex-employee who worked closely with Bezos warned, “At Amazon, drawing a distinction between content people and business people is a foreign concept.”

    Perhaps buying the Post was meant to be a good civic deed. Bezos has a family foundation, but he has hardly involved himself in philanthropy. In 2010, Charlie Rose asked him what he thought of Bill Gates’s challenge to other billionaires to give away most of their wealth. Bezos didn’t answer. Instead, he launched into a monologue on the virtue of markets in solving social problems, and somehow ended up touting the Kindle.

    Bezos bought a newspaper for much the same reason that he has invested money in a project for commercial space travel: the intellectual challenge. With the Post, the challenge is to turn around a money-losing enterprise in a damaged industry, and perhaps to show a way for newspapers to thrive again.

    Lately, digital titles have levelled off at about thirty per cent of book sales. Whatever the temporary fluctuations in publishers’ profits, the long-term outlook is discouraging. This is partly because Americans don’t read as many books as they used to—they are too busy doing other things with their devices—but also because of the relentless downward pressure on prices that Amazon enforces. The digital market is awash with millions of barely edited titles, most of it dreck, while readers are being conditioned to think that books are worth as little as a sandwich. “Amazon has successfully fostered the idea that a book is a thing of minimal value,” Johnson said. “It’s a widget.”

    There are two ways to think about this. Amazon believes that its approach encourages ever more people to tell their stories to ever more people, and turns writers into entrepreneurs; the price per unit might be cheap, but the higher number of units sold, and the accompanying royalties, will make authors wealthier. Jane Friedman, of Open Road, is unfazed by the prospect that Amazon might destroy the old model of publishing. “They are practicing the American Dream—competition is good!” she told me. Publishers, meanwhile, “have been banks for authors. Advances have been very high.” In Friedman’s view, selling digital books at low prices will democratize reading: “What do you want as an author—to sell books to as few people as possible for as much as possible, or for as little as possible to as many readers as possible?”

    The answer seems self-evident, but there is a more skeptical view. Several editors, agents, and authors told me that the money for serious fiction and nonfiction has eroded dramatically in recent years; advances on mid-list titles—books that are expected to sell modestly but whose quality gives them a strong chance of enduring—have declined by a quarter.

    #Amazon