Blog archive: All

  • 24th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A fake human rights group which apparently tried to gather intelligence about genuine campaigners is claiming that its strange behaviour was the result of threats from "the bad guys". The group, calling itself "Voiceless Victims", purported to be campaigning on behalf of exploited...
  • 23rd December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A "non-profit" organisation which claimed to be campaigning on behalf of exploited construction workers in Qatar has been exposed as a fake.  Purportedly operating from France, where it used a false address, "Voiceless Victims" contacted several genuine organisations concerned about...
  • 22nd December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A battle at the UN over the appointment of the Human Rights Council's first "independent expert" on LGBT rights appears to have been settled – for now. Vitit Muntarbhorn, the law professor from Thailand appointed in September to monitor "violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation...
  • 20th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    After a delay of more than six months Saudi Arabia finally admitted yesterday that its coalition forces have been using British-made cluster bombs in Yemen. A statement issued through the Saudi government news agency said the coalition had now "decided to cease usage" of those made in...
  • 19th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    After a delay of more than two years Lebanon finally has a new government and, for the first time, it includes a minister for women's affairs. He – yes, he – is Jean Oghassabian, a 62-year-old Armenian who has held posts in several previous governments. Reuters notes that the new...
  • 16th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Egyptian investigators announced yesterday that "traces of an explosive substance" had been found on the bodies of "some" victims of Egyptair flight MS804 which crashed into the Mediterranean sea last May. The claim, which hints at a terrorist attack, has been greeted with scepticism...
  • 14th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Amid concern about civilian casualties in Yemen, the United States is cutting back on arms sales to Saudi Arabia – at a time when the Britain, the kingdom's other main supplier, is trying to increase them. The US has decided not to go ahead with a $350 million sale of 16,000 guidance systems...
  • 11th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The death was reported today of Mohamed Tamalt who had been serving a two-year jail sentence in Algeria for insulting President Bouteflika on Facebook. Tamalt, 42, who had dual British and Algerian nationality and had been living in Britain before his imprisonment, was arrested on June...
  • 8th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A British flag flying shamelessly alongside those of repressive Gulf regimes at the GCC summit in Bahrain yesterday signalled the opening of what prime minister Theresa May hails as "a new chapter" in foreign relations. Mrs May has decided that when Britain extricates itself from Europe the...
  • 6th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Britain's prime minister, Theresa May, is in Bahrain today for the annual summit of the rich autocrats' club, the Gulf Cooperation Council. As the official announcement from Downing Street excitedly points out, she is the first British prime minister – and the first woman – ever to attend...
  • 5th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Doha Centre for Media Freedom was set up by the emir of Qatar in 2007. Press freedom and quality journalism, its mission statement says, "are vital for empowering citizens to participate in social and political life. Well functioning media are crucial for healthy societies and...
  • 21st November 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Visiting Syria in 2004, Brad Hoff, an ex-Marine from Texas, went looking for cheap beer and chanced upon a bar where – to his surprise – most of the customers were gay. The existence of such a bar in Damascus, Hoff writes after visiting it again recently, is "symbolic of the nuance and...

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