Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kidnapping Scandal Continues.

More news on disgraceful abduction and interrogation of Pakistani immigrants by Greek and British Secret Services.

This is from the English weekly "Athens News" online edition.

"Pakistanis Call the Press"

THE SCANDAL surrounding the alleged abduction and interrogation last summer of at least 28 Pakistani immigrants in Greece was put back on the front burner when 12 of the Pakistanis, their lawyer and members of a local human rights group called a press conference, breaking more than two months of public silence.

"We are here today to demand truth and justice," Petros Konstantinou, a member of the local Stop the War Coalition, told reporters on April 4. "We have people [Pakistanis] who say they have been threatened with their life and offered thousands of euros in bribes to take back their testimony. And we have three other Pakistanis who fled to Pakistan last year, but who have now returned to testify about their abduction... There are also two [Pakistanis] who say they can recognise a British secret agent involved in the illegal interrogations."

Three more Pakistanis testified before an Athens public prosecutor that they too were kidnapped, detained at an unknown location and questioned about the July 2005 bombings in London and their connection with radical Islam and the terrorist group Al Qa'ida.

Prominent Greek criminal lawyer, Frangiskos Ragoussis, who is representing the Pakistanis, announced that a formal complaint has been lodged as regards attempts to bribe five of his clients to take back their depositions. Several Pakistanis explained to reporters how they were approached and offered money and permanent residence permits by three compatriots. Several of them said they accepted payments of up to 5,000 euros, but are willing to return the money.

"Yes, several of us took the money, but you have to understand the pressure that we were under," said Nazir Ahmat, responding to a reporter's questions about why they took the money in the first place. Ahmat added: "We did not want to retract our testimony, but we were under constant pressure, day and night. We were made to believe that if we didn't, we would be in danger and our family back home would be in danger. They scared us."

"My main concern is not that several of my clients were forced into accepting bribes, but that there was a deliberate attempt to cover up the matter," said Ragoussis.

According to Ragoussis, it was not easy to gain his clients' trust and to convince them that they should not be afraid to fight for justice. "It's especially difficult considering the fact that we are going up against the Greek government, the British government and the Pakistani government," he said.

The embassy and the government of Pakistan, as well as the Greek government, have denied any involvement.

Kathy Tzilivakis

ATHENS NEWS , 07/04/2006, page: A04 Article code: C13177A043

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

4th European Social Forum- Athens, 4th-7th May

People not Profit
Peace not War.

4th European Social Forum
Athens May 4th - 7th.

The movements against war and capitalist globalisation are organising to take part in the 4th European Social Forum to be held from 4th - 7th May in Athens, Greece.
The French students' revolt has been an inspiration to all those fighting against a system that provacatively gives the multinationals and industrialists everything they want, while for us it is poverty, war and racism.

The anti-war movement will be in Athens, stronger and more determined not only in opposition to Bush/Blair's occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and in support of the Palestinians, but also against any "intervention" in Iran, and attacks on civil liberties ie The recent abduction of 28 Pakistani immigrants by the Greek, British and Pakistani secret services.

The workers movement will be there too.
Bank workers, port workers, workers at the Coca-Cola factory, workers from the fertiliser factory in Thessaloniki, teachers, students - all fighting against wage-freezes, redundancies, factory closures and privatisation.

There will be speakers from all over the world including Walden Bello "Focus on the Global South", Susan George "Attac France", Vitorio Anioletto "Euro MP and the 'spirit' ofthe Genoa Social Forum 2001", Samir Amin "Author", Jose Bove "Farmer activist", and many speakers from all over the world from the anti-war and anti-capitalist movements, labour activists and anti-racist organisations.

Saturday May 6th 15.00
Constitution Square, Athens
Pan-European Demonstration against War, Poverty, Racism and New-Liberalism.

Friday, April 07, 2006

U.S. army deserter tells of Iraq atrocities

From: http://lfpress....506-sun.html
U.S. army deserter tells of Iraq atrocities
By Andrew Davidson

Toronto -- A "trigger-happy" U.S. army squad leader shot the foot off an unarmed Iraqi man and soldiers kicked a severed head around like a soccer ball, a U.S. war deserter told an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing yesterday.

Joshua Key, the first U.S. deserter with combat experience in Iraq to apply for refugee status in Canada, told the board he witnessed numerous atrocities committed by U.S. forces while serving eight months as a combat engineer.

Key, 27, said there was never any discussion about the Geneva Convention during his training and he was told in Iraq by superior officers that the international law guiding humanitarian standards was just a "guideline."

"It's 'shoot first, ask questions later,' " Key said of his squad's guiding principles. "Everything's justified."

Key is one of five members of the U.S. armed forces asking for asylum in Canada.

But the Oklahoma native is unique in that he is the only applicant who has combat experience in Iraq, said his lawyer, Jeffry House. The others are seeking asylum in Canada to avoid being sent there, he said.

Key shouldn't have to return to the U.S. because the consequences of his decision to desert the war would likely amount to persecution, given the things he witnessed in Iraq, House said.

"He has boots-on-the-ground experience about what the actual conduct of the war in Iraq is," House said outside the hearing.

"If you have to participate in atrocities and you're going to be punished for refusing to participate in atrocities, then that punishment is illegitimate and it becomes persecution."

Key told the hearing he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and frequently has nightmares over what he witnessed in Iraq.

He recalled participating in almost nightly raids on homes of suspected insurgents in Ramadi and Fallujah as a member of the 43rd Combat Engineer Company.

He said that while the raids seldom turned up anything of interest, he often saw soldiers ransack the homes and steal jewelry or money, while superior officers looked the other way.

He also said several Iraqis were killed because of soldiers "shooting out of fear and inventing reasons afterward."