August 09, 2007
IRAN AND IRAQ FORGE CLOSE TIES
Iran and Iraq expressed mutual support for each other as Iran made calls for the US to leave Iraq. The two Shia governments met for two days of meetings to talk about Iraqi security. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki called the meetings ‘successful’ but did not offer as enthusiastic of an analysis as his Iranian counterparts. Al-Maliki is under pressure to live up to political goals set by the United States while the American government continues to denounce Iran as fueling violence in there. Iran, meanwhile, called for the US to leave Iraq for the sake of security there and in the region. Iranian media also reports economic agreements between the two countries, including an oil sharing plan and reconstruction help.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS MARCH TO BAGHDAD
(Ambiance sound) That is the call to prayer at the Al Khadhum Shrine in Baghdad. Millions of Shia Iraqi’s are making their annual march to the golden domed shrine. A tight security crackdown, including a four day long curfew, is underway to protect voyagers from violence. Hiba Dawood reports.
Baghdad is expecting many thousands of Iraqis from all over the country to celebrate the commemoration of Imam Khadum’s death. He is one of the 12 holy Shiite Imams. A curfew has been imposed for security. Offices and institutes are closed for 2 days, as are the airports AND A few Iraqi newspapers that are based in Baghdad. Hospitals, markets, and internet cafes are all affected by the curfew. On this day in 2005, around one thousand people were killed when some pilgrims heard rumors of a suicide bomber among the crowds. Many people jumped in to the Tigris River to escape. Thursday, Baghdad security operations forbade people carrying guns, cell phones and purses from visiting the shrine. The security forces in Baghdad have also cooperated with the local civil committees in the neighborhood as well with the health institutes to monitor the food and drinks given to people as it is a part of the celebration to give others food and drinks. The Curfew will continue till Saturday. Meanwhile, American army killed and wounded 24 suspects in north of Baghdad thought to be affiliated with Al Qaeda. For FSRN this is Hiba Dawood.
IRAQI ASYLUM SEEKERS MIGHT GET A SECOND CHANCE IN BRITAIN
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ordered a review of the cases of 91 Iraqi interpreters who worked for the British military in Iraq. This is an important shift in policy as their asylum claims were previously rejected by the British immigration system despite glowing references from the army. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.
As many as 20,000 Iraqis have worked for Britain’s armed forces in various capacities since the invasion in 2003. Ninety one interpreters seeking British asylum worked in Iraq on the frontline with British forces. Danger was a part of their jobs: they faced specific targeting by militias who considered them traitors for working with the occupiers. An unknown number of interpreters have already been killed. This interpreter (who cannot be identified) fled Iraq after being threatened: (sound clip) One morning when I woke up I saw a text message on my mobile, it said if you’re still working with the British, you will get killed, it was terrible. I am very disappointed about the army, you know, they don’t care about humans, they don’t care about the people who served them.’ ‘The British asylum system has become increasingly restrictive over the years with most claims rejected. However, information today about the case of one Iraqi interpreter has given fresh hope; he was granted asylum after the Home Office admitted to the serious dangers Iraqi interpreters faced. That will have important implications for other cases. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
MAURITANIA PUNISHES SLAVERY
The government of the Northwest African country, Mauritania, unanimously passed a law that punishes slavery. Violators could be imprisoned for up to ten years, slavery sympathizers could be jailed for two. Slavery was banned in 1981, but as many as 600,000 Mauritanians are enslaved, forced into bondage labor. Human rights groups are pleased, but advocated for a harsher measure to include 30 years of jail time, and punishments for forced marriage and indentured labor.
MUSHARRAF REJECTS POWER EXPANSION
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf rejects instating emergency rule over his county where tensions are on the rise and stability is in danger. A spokesperson told BBC that Gen Musharraf, who has control of the military, was ‘committed to democracy’ and chose not to. Emergency rule would have suspended the court system, curtailed civil liberties, and possibly delayed the elections to take place later this year. Musharraf did skip out on a regional jirga conference to be held in Afghanistan on security. His absence threatens a successful outcome.
CANDIDATES TO FOCUS ON LBGT
Thursday evening, the Democratic Presidential Candidates will participate in the first ever forum dedicated to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender issues. Hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, 6 of the 8 candidates will attend this third debate in less than a week. Senators Joseph Biden and Chris Dodd will not attend.
Iraqi Deaths to Reach One Million (3:15)
US forces in Iraq killed 32 people in a raid and air strikes in Sadr City Wednesday. Witnesses claim that at least nine civilians – including two women, were also killed in the raid and air strikes. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Sadr City, protesting the attack. As the death toll in Iraq continues to rise, a new Iraqi death estimate indicates that the toll will cross the one million mark sometime next week. We’re joined by Patrick McElwee, a Policy Analyst at JustForeignPolicy.org, the non-partisan institute that released the estimate.
Gonzales Seeks Death Penalty Fast Track (5:15)
Pro Death Penalty forces in Congress and the Justice Department are planning to Fast Track the federal Courts processing of Death Penalty appeals. Under a little known provision of the reauthorization of the PATRIOT ACT, the U.S. Department of Justice, under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, will now decide which states will have their death penalty cases sped up in federal court. The fast tracking regulations were going to take effect Monday, August 6 – but at the 11th hour, the Department of Justice extended the public comment period by an additional six weeks. FSRN’s Eric Klein reports.
Khmer Rouge Trial Announced (3:00)
A United Nations-backed tribunal, officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, announced this week that the former Khmer Rouge commandant of the notorious S21 prison, Kang Keck Yu, is to stand trial. This comes after a decade of wrangling over the tribunal’s ground rules on funding and the independence of the tribunal that threatened to derail the process completely. He is alleged to have been responsible for horrific crimes against humanity which took place at the prison in the mid to late 1970s. Claudia Cragg reports.
China’s Human Rights Abuses Take Center Stage (3:30)
China has less than a year to go before hosting the 2008 Olympics, but the country is already in trouble. It is on track with infrastructure for the games after pumping more than $40-billion in building sports sites – but as FSRN’s Karen Miller reports, China’s human rights abuses are taking center stage.
US Energy Policy Still Lacks Luster (4:00)
Before leaving for a month long-August recess, the House passed an energy bill that would force US power companies to use more renewable sources of energy. The Senate already passed energy legislation, but now the two chambers need to work out their differences before the bill heads to the President. But as Matt Laslo reports from Washington, while they debate policy, the rest of the world continues to outpace the US on energy issues.