The POMED Wire

Turkey Arrests Three Activists for Promoting “Terrorist Propaganda”

Turkey Arrests Three Activists on Terrorism Charges: Turkey arrested three press freedom activists on charges of spreading “terrorist propaganda” after they edited the Ozgur Gundem magazine, a newspaper that reports on Kurdish issues. The activists, Local Reporters Without Borders (RSF) representative Erol Onderoglu, author Ahmet Nesin, and President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Korur Fincanci, were ordered to be held in pretrial detention after they guest-edited the magazine and lobbied against its censorship. The three activists had joined a “solidarity campaign” with 50 other journalists to guest-edit the magazine for a day each. Ozgur Gundem is considered to be closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist organization by the Turkish government. Ankara has attempted to suppress critics of the current military campaign against the PKK in southeastern Turkey, and Ozgur Gundem has been subjected to dozens of investigations, fines, and arrests of journalists since 2014. Fincanci, who won the first International Medical Peace Award for helping the UN establish principles for detecting and documenting torture, defended her work, telling the court that all the articles in the issue that she edited “should be covered by the principles of freedom …

State Department Reports on Bahrain’s Implementation of the BICI

The State Department submitted to Congress an unclassified report on the steps taken by the Government of Bahrain to implement the recommendations in the 2011 Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) on June 21, 2016. The report was required by the FY16 Omnibus appropriations bill that was enacted on December 18, 2015, and due to be submitted to Congress on February 1, 2016. The report was released 141 days late, amid an escalating crackdown on dissenting voices, opposition figures, and the Shi’a religious community in Bahrain.  The full text of the report is available here.

The November 2011 BICI report outlined specific recommendations for the Government of Bahrain to move from a period of unrest following the popular uprising of 2011 into national reconciliation and reform. The recommendations of the BICI report included the release of political prisoners, reinstatement of dismissed workers and students, creation of independent institutions to provide oversight over the security forces, reconstruction of destroyed Shi’a mosques, integration of the security forces, and the establishment of an independent national commission to implement the BICI recommendations.

The State Department report cites Congressional language requiring the report  to describe “the specific steps taken by the …

Kuwaiti MP Convicted for Anti-Saudi Statements

The Kuwaiti National Assembly sentenced in absentia outspoken lawmaker and lawyer Abdul Hamid Dashti to 10 days in prison pending further investigation and trial by Kuwait’s top criminal court, at which point Dashti could face a longer sentence. The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed against Dashti by the Saudi Embassy for comments the lawmaker made about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. According to the Public Prosecutor, three new complaints have been brought against Dashti in recent weeks, bringing the total number of complaints against Dashti to nine. In March of this year, Dashti’s parliamentary immunity was stripped for repeatedly defaming Saudi Arabia, leaving the lawmaker vulnerable to imprisonment and other criminal charges.

Dashti has long been a critic of the Saudi government’s intervention in the 2011 uprising in Bahrain and support of the al-Khalifa ruling family, the ongoing military intervention in Yemen’s civil war, and propagation of “terrorism” in Syria – Dashti is a supporter of Syrian President Assad, not the Saudi-backed rebel forces. These comments over the years have place Dashti at risk of arrest both at home and abroad.

Under Kuwaiti law, any individual convicted of a hostile attack against a …

Hearing Notes – U.S. Policy in Libya

On June 15, 2016, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled “U.S. Policy in Libya.” The witness was State Department Special Envoy for Libya Jonathan Winer. To watch a webcast of the hearing, click here.

Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) opened the hearing by noting how Libya is a “textbook case” of what not to do in foreign policy. He stated that U.S. policy in Libya is unclear, and he saw the point of the hearing as an attempt to “understand what is an achievable outcome in Libya that is in line with U.S. interests, and at what cost.” He questioned the training and arming of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) militia and national guard, especially considering the United States’ past experiences in arming Libyan security forces and the lessons the United States learned from doing so. He highlighted Libyans who have been sanctioned because they inhibited the formation of the unity government, and questioned whether the U.S. government is prepared to do so in the future. Noting the failure of U.S. policy in Libya following the fall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, Corker suggested that a lack of ‘day-after’ planning significantly hindered Libya’s progress.

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