ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing
Kristen Gillespie


In a video clip taken from Syrian state television that is circulating with the title, "Syrian girl terrorizes 1,000 men," a woman named Zubaida calls in to a live broadcast. The banner below the presenter indicates that the next segment of the show will feature the live, televised confessions of members of "terrorist cells armed with weapons and money and taking orders from external forces to implement their experimental plans inside Syria." As Zubaida extends greetings to Daraa and Jisr al-Shughour, where she says she is from, she begins to denounce government corruption and the presenter briefly looks off camera for his own orders. "Ms. Zubaida, your voice is very weak and we can't hear you very well," he says, despite the fact that her voice is entirely too clear. She denounces the "official media's lies' as the presenter babbles incomprehensibly over her and the channel cuts to pre-recorded footage of a nighttime pro-Assad rally in Damascus.

The Syria Revolution Facebook group unveiled a new "I Love the Syrian Revolution" logo, under which is written "because it is the way to achieve our freedom." The group's administrator adds below: "because we want freedom and dignity… because it is our promise to the martyrs… because we are a people of dignity and pride… because we are free." One commenter from Homs, Syria writes: "This is the first time I feel able to say whatever I want, and that is the first step on the path to freedom."

Al Jazeera reports that former Tunisian President Zein el-Abedine Ben Ali and his wife, Leila Trabulsi, will be tried in absentia beginning on June 20th. The Ben Alis have sought refuge in Saudi Arabia since the president resigned on January 14th. Tunisian Prime Minister Baji al-Sibsi said that Tunisian authorities have asked Saudi Arabia to extradite the Ben Alis for trial. They face charges of "drug possession, weapons and racketeering," the network reported.

The Jordanian government is working hard to counter the narrative presented by multiple eyewitnesses that a group of young men attacked King Abdullah's motorcade and threw rocks and empty bottles at it during a visit to the impoverished, tribal southern town of Tafila, 200 kilometers south of Amman. "What happened is a stampede," said Tafila MP Yahya al-Saud. "What happened is the result of a stampede," echoed fellow Tafila MP Abdul Rahman al-Hinaqteh, stressing that the king received "the most beautiful welcome." A Jordanian security source, meanwhile, confirmed to AFP that bottles and stones were thrown at the king.

June 14, 2011

photo credit: illustir

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Migrant Lives

The Other Scandal At The Poland-Belarus Border: Where's The UN?

The United Nations, UNICEF, Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations seems to be trying to reach the Polish-Belarusian border, where Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is creating a refugee crisis on purpose.

Migrants in Michalowo, Belarus, next to the border with Poland.

Wojciech Czuchnowski

WARSAW — There is no doubt that the refugees crossing the Belarusian border with Poland — and by extension reaching the European Union — were shepherded through by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. There is more than enough evidence that this is an organized action of the dictator using a network of intermediaries stretching from Africa and the Middle East. But that is not all.

The Belarusian regime has made no secret that its services are guiding refugees to the Polish border, literally pushing them onto (and often, through) the wires.

It can be seen in films made available to the media by... Belarusian border guards and Lukashenko's official information agencies.

Tactics of a strongman

Refugees are not led to the border by "pretend soldiers" in uniforms from a military collectibles store. These are regular formations commanded by state authorities. Their actions violate all rules of peaceful coexistence and humanitarianism to which Belarus has committed itself as a state.

Belarus is dismissed by the "rest of the world" as a hopeless case of a bizarre (although, in the last year, increasingly brutal) dictatorship. But it still formally belongs to a whole range of organizations whose principles it violates every day on the border with Poland.

Indeed, Belarus is a part of the United Nations (it is even listed as a founding state in its declaration), it belongs to the UNICEF, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and even to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Photo of Polish soldiers setting up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Polish soldiers set up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Maciej Luczniewski/ZUMA

Lukashenko would never challenge the Red Cross

Each of these entities has specialized bureaus whose task is to intervene wherever conventions and human rights are violated. Each of these organizations should have sent their observers and representatives to the conflict area long ago — and without asking Belarus for permission. They should be operating on both sides of the border, as their presence would certainly make it more difficult to break the law.

An incomprehensible absence

Neither the leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczyński nor even Lukashenko would dare to keep the UN, UNICEF, OSCE or the Red Cross out of their countries.

In recent weeks, the services of one UN state (Belarus) have been regularly violating the border of another UN state (Poland). In the nearby forests, children are being pushed around and people are dying. Despite all of this, none of the international organizations seems to be trying to reach the border nor taking any kind of action required by their responsibilities.

Their absence in such a critical time and place is completely incomprehensible, and their lack of action raises questions about the use of international treaties and organizations created to protect them.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!