Radical Cleric Receives 15 year sentence from Indonesian Court

Radical Cleric Receives 15 year sentence from Indonesian Court

By Brianne Yantz
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Radical Islamic cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, was sentenced last Thursday for his support of a terror training camp uncovered in 2010 in the Aceh province of northern Sumatra.  Although prosecutors sought life imprisonment, the court handed down a sentence of fifteen years.

Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir voicing his opposition to the guilty verdict. (Photo courtesy of The Jakarta Globe).
Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir voicing his opposition to the guilty verdict. (Photo courtesy of The Jakarta Globe)

While Bashir, now 72, was found guilty of inciting terrorism, he was acquitted on the charge of funding terrorist activities.  According to The Washington Post, the judges believed the evidence was not substantial enough to establish that Bashir knew the money he had raised went towards purchasing guns for the training camp.

Still, Bashir has refused to accept the ruling. The Jakarta Globe reported that immediately after the verdict was read Bashir declared “this verdict is unfair because this is based on laws that are made by infidels, not based on sharia.  It is haram (forbidden) for me to accept the ruling.” His lawyers immediately stated that an appeal would be filed.

This is the third time in the past eight years that Bashir has been charged with activities connected to terrorism; the first two attempts to convict were ultimately unsuccessful.  In 2005, Bashir had been convicted of conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bomb attacks, which killed over 200 people. Yet after serving only 26 months, Bashir’s conviction was overturned.

Anti-terror police detained Bashir, who has been arrested repeatedly over the years, in August 2010 for his connection to the training camp. The training camp brought together radical militants from several jihadi groups.  It was believed they were planning a violent overthrow of the government and the mass murder of moderate Muslims and non-Muslim peoples. Although Bashir denied his involvement with the camp, he stated that it was legal under the laws of Islam.

According to the BBC News report, Bashir has repeatedly stated that the allegations against him were “engineered by America.” For years both the United States and Australia have been urging the Indonesian authorities to take a harder stance against Bashir.  However, the Indonesian authorities were hesitant to do so for fear of antagonizing Islamic radicals.  Last Thursday’s ruling indicates a new determination to tackle the extremist movement within Indonesia.

More than 3,000-armed police were sent to the courthouse where hundreds of Bashir’s supporters were gathered after authorities were alerted to bomb scares and threats of violence.  Although supporters cried foul when the guilty sentence was handed down, the crowd dispersed peacefully.

Bashir has been a part of the radical Islamic movement in Indonesia for over four decades.  He has been jailed and released on numerous occasions.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Indonesia jails cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir for 15 years – June 16, 2011

The Jakarta Globe – Bashir Sentenced to 15 Years – June 16, 2011

NY Times – Indonesia Sentences Radical Cleric to 15 Years – June 16, 2011

Radio New Zealand – Indonesian militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has been found guilty of terrorism charges and jailed for 15 years – June 16, 2011

The Washington Post – Spiritual leader of Bali bombers gets 15 years on terror charge linked to new militant camp – June 16, 2011

OTP Weekly Briefing Issue #92: OTP Public Notice–Victims Of Violence Committed Since The 2010 Presidential Election In Côte D’ivoire Have 30 Days To Make Representations To Icc On The Opening Of An Investigation By The Prosecutor

OTP Weekly Briefing_15-20 June 2011 #92


by Adom M. Cooper
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

TRIPOLI, Libya–After a visit to the Nafusa Mountains, Human Rights Watch officials claim that the Libyan government forces have placed more than 150 antipersonnel landmines in at least one location. Nafusa Mountains, which lie to the south of Tripoli, have been the site of rebel advances against the government’s troops.

Children in Tripoli wander the remains of a house struck by an errant NATO missile.(Photo Courtesy of NYT)
Children in Tripoli wander the remains of a house struck by an errant NATO missile. (Photo Courtesy of the New York Times)

Human Rights Watch reported on six total locations in Libya where regime forces had lain five different types of landmines. Steve Goose, arms director for the advocacy group, shared these sentiments concerning the landmines:

“These antipersonnel landmines pose a huge threat to civilians. More than 150 countries have banned landmines, but Libya continues to defy this global trend. We hope the rebels will respect their promise not to use landmines and will destroy all mines in their possession. The use of antipersonnel mines in the Libya conflict is endangering civilians and will continue to do so after the fighting has stopped.”

The type of landmines found in the Nafusa Mountains are a Brazilian-manufactured antipersonnel mine, known as the T-AB-1. These mines were placed about 10 miles north of the town of Zintan in a location called Khusha, apparently to defend government positions resting further north. The T-AB-1 has a low metal content and is very difficult to detect once placed, especially by civilians who may just be passing through the mountains.

When the Libyan government placed these landmines has yet to be confirmed. Rebels discovered the mines around 1 June 2011 and removed 169 of them, with Human Rights Watch inspecting the disassembled mines.

Civilians in the Nafusa Mountains have reported that they have been driven from their homes, their livestock killed, and their wells poisoned by the regime. Unfortunately, civilians have not just been feeling the heat from the Qadhafi regime. On 18 June 2011, NATO mistakenly destroyed a house in the Libyan capital, killing several residents, and acknowledged responsibility for the deaths. This marked this first time that NATO has admitted to causing multiple civilian casualties.

Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, expressed these thoughts about the NATO strike that took Libyan civilian lives.

“NATO is endangering its credibility; we cannot risk killing civilians. We cannot continue our shortcomings in the way we communicate with the public, which does not keep up with the daily propaganda of Qadhafi.”

It is blatantly evident that the ongoing conflict in Libya is costing its civilians their homes, access to basic resources, and even their lives. While NATO attempts to get control of the situation through its bombings, the civilians of Libya seem to be the only ones paying the price. It is a classic case of escalation: Qadhafi attacks his own population; NATO bombs to get Qadhafi’s attention; Qadhafi regime places landmines.

But those primarily affected have absolutely nothing to do with the escalating. They are simply trying to live their lives in peace.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian-Libya: Gaddafi regime accused of laying landmines-21 June 2011

Human Rights Watch-Libya: Government Using Landmines in Nafusa Mountains-21 June 2011

News24-Army laying mines near Tripoli-21 June 2011

Al-Jazeera-Libyan civilian deaths ‘sap NATO credibility’-20 June 2011

New York Times-NATO Admits Missile Hit a Civilian Home in Tripoli-19 June 2011

The UAE tries activists to head off Arab Spring

By Tyler Yates
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — For over two months the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been holding five political activists in “preventative custody” without trial or official charges.

On June 14 a closed-door trial was finally begun in the Abu Dhabi Supreme Court for charges of undermining the public order and endangering national security.  There was virtually no pronouncement in the local press.   The trial is scheduled to resume in July.

The accused include Ahmad Mansoor, a well-known political blogger who runs the online forum Al-Hiwar al-Emarati,  Nasser bin Ghaith, a financial analyst, writer, and economics lecturer, as well as activists Fahid Salim Dalk, Hassan Ali Khamis, and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq.  They have all been detained without bail since April.

The main commonality between the five men is that they are all signers of a petition that circulated in March, calling for constitutional and parliamentary changes.

The petition contains two main propositions – to expand the right to vote in the Federal National Council (FNC) and to create within the FNC a right to legislate.

In the last election only 7,000 of the confederation’s 800,000 people were allowed to vote.  In the upcoming election this number is expected to grow to around 80,000, but that is still only ten percent of the population.  Currently, the power of the FNC is restricted to advising the UAE hereditary rulers.

The UAE is a confederation of seven Middle Eastern states, each ruled by an emir.  It is best known internationally for its skylines and its economic and cultural ambitions.  It is home to the world’s largest skyscraper, and many famous universities.

None of the emirates is ruled democratically, and the UAE has been ranked, by human rights watchdog agency Freedom House, among the world’s “not free” countries.   Freedom House’s 2011 report notes, among other things, that the UAE have banned political parties, that public meetings can only be held with governmental permission, and that journalists routinely censor their stories.  Such actions have led organizations like Human Rights Watch to question UAE citizen’s abilities to peacefully dissent.

Unlike most Middle Eastern countries the UAE have avoided much of the activism and opposition incited by the Arab Spring.  The countries are prosperous and well run, with most of the population remaining loyal to their traditional leaders.

Examples of instability in the Middle East brought on by the Arab Spring revolutions have proved ample reason for tighter crackdowns on subversive activity.  The UAE is attempting to stop the problem before it starts.  It is sending the message to any activists operating within its borders that anti-government actions will not be tolerated.

For more information, please see:

The Jerusalem Post – In Arab Spring chill, UAE tries bloggers – 20 June 2011

Agence France-Presse – Blogger tried for criticizing UAE government – 15 June 2011

Agence France-Presse – UAE urged to release 5 activists on trial – 15 June 2011

Committee to Protect Journalists – Beyond the Amina hoax: Real cases in the Middle East – 15 June 2011

Committee to Protect Journalists – UAE intent on punishing online dissent – 14 June 2011

Cell Phone Videos of Rape by Gadhafi Soldiers Emerge in Libya

by Reta Raymond
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

TRIPOLI, Libya –  Rebel forces in Libya recently produced a cell phone video to CNN depicting a woman being raped and sodomized by a man that the rebels believe is one of Gadhafi’s soldiers. The video has not been authenticated independently. While the man seen in the video is not dressed in uniform, both he and the cameraman have a distinct Tripoli accent. Much of the fighting between Gadhafi’s forces and the resistance has taken place in Tripoli, supporting the allegation that the men in the video are Gadhafi’s soldiers. Rebel forces claim they have confiscated numerous cell phone videos of women being raped and tortured.

Iman al-Obedi was the first to report that she had been raped by Gadhafi's soldiers. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

Rebel spokesman Abdullah al-Kabeira says rape has been “used as a weapon of war, because it [is] systematic.” However, the Libyan government has vigorously denied the allegations of rape used as a war tactic, as Prime minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi stated “th[ese], like the other mercenaries lies, are false.”On 26 March, Libyan law student Iman al-Obeidi reported to international journalists at a hotel in Tripoli that she had been raped by soldiers from Gadhafi’s regime. Investigations have since been initiated by the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) at the Hague, to determine whether the use of rape in Libya’s conflict warrants a war crimes tribunal.

The ICC also believes that drugs, such as Viagra, were provided to troops to encourage rape. ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said that the investigation was still ongoing, but “the victims are coming forward.” Libyan psychologist Siham Serewa found that 5 percent of the 50,000 surveyed refugees in camps report they had been raped.

Additionally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has expressed her concern. Clinton stated “Gadhafi’s security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms.”

In Libya rape is particularly effective because both the woman, her family and sometimes an entire village are dishonored by the rape. Those women who are impregnated by their rapist are sometimes subject to “honor killings” by their fathers. Hana Elgadi, an aid worker, says that the killings are motivated by a sense of  love for their daughters, stating “[The fathers] believe they are saving the girl.”  The shame imposed on the family by society is so great that rebel forces have allegedly destroyed the confiscated rape videos to protect the victims and their families.

For more information, please see;

BBC Libya rape victims face ‘honor killings’ – 14 June, 2011

BBC Libya:  Clinton condemns rape as a weapon of war – 17 June, 2011

CNN Libyan rebels say captured cell phone videos show rape, torture – 17 June, 2011

CNNLibyan government denies rape allegations – 18 June, 2011