January 2012 (20)
Jan 31 2012 6:14PM
Desolation Row: was Fadhila Mubarak listening to Bob Dylan?
Earlier this week a woman activist in Bahrain, Fadhila Mubarak , had an 18-month prison sentence against her upheld. It was for protesting against the Bahraini government and - wait for it - for listening to "revolutionary" music. Last...
Jan 30 2012 2:28PM
The journalists of tomorrow
OK so today I felt like turning the blog a bit on its head. Normally on these pages we love to chat about what’s in the news and what’s hot in the world of human rights. Instead, today, what I want to do is talk about the human rights...
Jan 27 2012 10:04PM
Torture in Libya: la même chose
“Plus ça change”, said Channel 4 News’ Jonathan Miller during his report on torture in Libya last night. This is the “new” Libya, post Gaddafi, with a transitional government for now and hopes that elections in April will usher in a tr...
Jan 27 2012 12:48PM
A tale of two cities
What have Bhopal in 1984, and London 2012 got in common? Well, poison. One was the scene of the largest toxic chemical spill of our time, and the other risks being poisoned by association with it. In December 1984 a highly toxic gas wa...
Jan 25 2012 4:30PM
Just one shot for a bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty
Did you know that every year enough bullets are made to kill every person on this planet … twice? And that eight million new guns are manufactured to fire them? The arms trade is a booming and deadly business. But it’s also an industry...
Jan 24 2012 5:09PM
Kenya on the road to justice?
For most of us (unless you're David Cameron, Nick Clegg or Gordon Brown), the last UK general election was nothing short of a soap-operatic, emotion-fuelled dramatic spectacle. Never before had I overheard so many people on the number...
Jan 24 2012 5:08PM
Strange fruit: the Egyptian revolution one year on
The phrase being used is “reaping the fruit”. “Reaping the fruit of democracy”, as Ali Dora, an MP with Egypt’s now powerful Freedom and Justice Party puts it (see the short film embedded in Jack Shenker’s piece for the Guardian ). The...
Jan 23 2012 1:03PM
“Spreading corruption on earth” can only mean one thing in Iran….
Can a judge really say with a straight face that a person has been charged with ‘spreading corruption on earth’? I mean, really? Apparently so, it would seem. In Iran at least. And anyone in Iran who is unfortunate enough to have this...
Jan 20 2012 5:47PM
News is the news
It's been quite a year for navel gazing in the British press. Leveson is on the rolling news, on the morning news, the evening news, the front page, pages 2- 36 and all over the comment section. This is news-news, hacks on hacks, edito...
Jan 19 2012 2:59PM
Dealing with the Taleban: business as usual?
Now we know that the Wendi Deng Twitter account is fake (even though her husband, Rupert Murdoch’s, is not), you might be forgiven for thinking the story about the Taleban opening an international political office has a ring of … inaut...
Jan 18 2012 4:37PM
'It's all about the use of torture...'
As zingy catchphrases go, it's … er, different. But this is how Kate Allen opened her Channel 4 News interview last night talking about the Abu Qatada case (which I blogged on yesterday ). Today's news – that the much-anticipated inqui...
Jan 17 2012 3:27PM
In harm's way: Abu Qatada
Is Omar Mahmoud Othman, otherwise known as Abu Qatada al-Filistini (or simply Abu Qatada) a dangerous man? This seems to be the general presumption ( his BBC profile from 2007 runs through the main accusations commonly made about him)....
Jan 16 2012 2:31PM
The media's been up in arms of late
Arms deals - legitimate or otherwise - have been hotly discussed in the media in recent days. British gunrunner Gary Hyde is back in the news as he’s in court in South London accused of making illegal weapons shipments to Nigeria from...
Jan 13 2012 6:22PM
Mass prisoner release in Burma
If we were issuing a reward for most improved government of the year then Burma would sweep the board, hands down. (As opposed to hands up – see this tweet to Nick Clegg, one of the many public figures who took part in our "Hands up fo...
Jan 12 2012 5:39PM
A bigger broom needed: the Detainee Inquiry
Overnight I saw some bitterly ironic comments on social media about that horrible Afghan 'urination video'– the one appearing to show four US Marines in Afghanistan urinating on several prone (dead?) bodies in front of them. Some comme...
Jan 11 2012 1:23PM
Guantánamo: ten years and counting
It’s exactly ten years today since a startled world saw those first images of 20 shackled, orange-suited detainees on their hands and knees between the chain-link pens at Guantánamo Bay. The detainees, you’ll recall, were shackled hand...
Jan 10 2012 5:15PM
Like father, like Jong Un?
The start of the new year is a time for turning over a new leaf and reinventing your image. In terms of “out with the old”, you can’t get much more pronounced than North Korea, who have got themselves a new leader and, it might seem, a...
Jan 9 2012 9:08AM
The ‘Arab Spring’ - that’s so last year
News that the word “occupy” has been named 2011’s word of the year by the American Dialect Society is quite interesting … though maybe not that surprising. As a “verb, noun, and combining form referring to the Occupy protest movement”,...
Jan 5 2012 1:45PM
The Burma supremacy
Now out in the cinemas there’s a biopic about Aung San Suu Kyi, The Lady . It has had quite a bit of hype – panned by some critics, and lorded by others. I intend to go and see it, perhaps at the weekend. I might, I might not. But the...
Jan 3 2012 12:00AM
Syria: is it a story without end or hope?
One of the people I follow on Twitter is a British-Syrian woman living in London. She tweets as @RazanSpeaks and her daily updates are a depressing roll call of deaths. A typical tweet reads something like: “23 casualties today in Syri...