Interested in Kashmir Human Rights? Then, #askai

Protests Against Indian Rule in Kashmir - copyright Majid Pandit, used by permission

WHEN: Thursday, October 14, 10am – 11am Eastern US Time (19:30 in India/Kashmir)

WHERE: Follow Govind on Twitter @acharya_dude

HOW: Submit questions on Twitter any time from now through October 14 using hashtag #AskAI (adding @acharya_dude is helpful but not necessary).  See below for other ways of getting in touch.  Example: Is there a consensus in the Indian political spectrum about what’s happening in Kashmir? #askai

Kashmir has been convulsed by violent clashes between protesters and security forces.  The current violence has left over 100 people dead and has raised concerns over the widespread human rights violations committed by Indian security forces in their efforts to tamp down the violence.  The litany of abuses are long—heavy restrictions on Kashmiri media, heavy-handed curfews and outright killings of protesters.  Worst of all, most of these human rights violations can occur with complete impunity because of the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in parts of Kashmir.

With India in the spotlight over 2010 Commonwealth Games and the violence not garnering the same attention in the media, it’s even more important for us to highlight the human rights concerns in Kashmir and to urge the Indian government and the Jammu and Kashmir state government to take immediate steps to prosecute security forces.  India is also supposedly one of the new great powers taking over from US hegemony; therefore, it’s more important than ever to publicize human rights violations in Kashmir and elsewhere in India.

On Thursday, October 14 from 10am – 11am eastern US time, I’ll be holding a live chat over twitter from my twitter handle @acharya_dude (feel free to follow with your twitter account).  It’s a way to get a new audience engaged on human rights in Kashmir.  It doesn’t mean that you actually have to have a twitter account to see the questions and answers (but you do need one to ask a question on  twitter)– just type in twitter.com/acharya_dude.  The easiest way to get me a question is to include the following in a twitter message: @acharya_dude #askai.

You can ask me a question in the comments of this blog, you can email them to me at Bangladesh@aiusacs.org and you could probably ask them on Facebook as well if you like the Amnesty USA page and if this post appears on the Facebook page.  I’ll monitor those places and post them to twitter as I get questions.  I’ll then respond to them between 10am and 11am eastern US time this Thursday, October 14.  I will then post the twitter transcript to this blog afterwards!  Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Update:  Read a transcript of this chat here.

Your Guantanamo Questions Answered

Join Tom Parker, our Policy Director for Terrorism, Counterterrorism and Human Rights, to get your questions answered on the Obama administration’s plans to close Guantánamo and the upcoming Military Commission trial for Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr, who has been in U.S. custody since the age of 15.

WHEN: Tuesday, August 10th from 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST

WHERE: Follow Tom on Twitter @TomAtAmnesty

HOW: Submit questions on Twitter any time from now through August 10th using hashtag #AskAI.  Example: How else should the U.S. gain intelligence re: terrorism plots w/o using torture? #askai

Time Running Out for Omar Khadr

Time is running out for Omar Khadr, his Military Commission trial will finally get underway on August 10th and it is likely to be completed within two weeks.

We don’t anticipate a very edifying spectacle. Khadr fired his hopelessly outclassed civilian defense attorneys last month and is refusing to participate any further in the proceedings. As he explained in a letter to the court:

“It is going to be the same thing with or without lawyers. It’s going to be a life sentence.”

It is hardly a surprise that after eight years of delay and prevarication, rule changes and procedural challenges, Khadr has no faith in the genuine independence of the military commission process. Few international observers do.

Omar Khadr was taken into US custody when he was 15 years old on 27 July 2002 in Afghanistan. On the right is a picture of him after being detained for eight years.

The case against Khadr is a weak one. There are no eyewitnesses to the primary

incident and the only real evidence against him are statements obtained from him under duress and a videotape of him apparently helping to plant an IED. It is not clear whether the tape is of a training exercise or an actual attack.

The judge in the case is still refusing to consider whether incriminating statements made by Khadr after his capture were obtained through torture – hardly a fanciful claim since his interrogator was actually convicted in a US court martial of abusing another detainee in the same facility.

Khadr’s remaining–military–attorney, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, has petitioned the Supreme Court to consider the propriety of the US government maintaining in essence a separate legal system for US non-citizens. US citizens charged with terrorist offenses are directed to the federal courts not military commissions. As Lt. Col. Jackson notes: “separate is always unequal.”

Finally, perhaps most egregious of all, Khadr is being tried as an adult despite the fact that he was only fifteen when the alleged offenses he is accused of occurred. Under the terms of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which the United States is a signatory, Khadr should properly be considered a child soldier.

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