18 January 2019

English

Joko Widodo Administration's Authoritarian Measures Continue to Weaken Indonesian Democracy

China Targets Prominent Uighur Intellectuals to Erase an Ethnic Identity

Rahile Dawut, above with camera, is an anthropologist at Xinjiang University who studied Islamic shrines, traditional songs and folklore. She was detained in December 2017 and has not been heard from since.CreditCreditLisa Ross

 

Palestinians vow hunger strikes if Israel worsens jail conditions

KONFRONTASI-Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, detention facilities, and interrogation centres are preparing to launch a mass hunger strike once Israel implements new measures that will worsen conditions for prisoners.

In a joint statement, prisoners, including administrative detainees who are held without charge, said their decision was in response to a "new level of oppression".

"These measures are a declaration of war that marks a new phase of our struggle," the statement read.

They also called on Palestinian factions and activists to stand in solidarity with them and demanded nationwide rallies.

Israel holds 5,500 Palestinian prisoners, including nearly 500 administrative detainees, according to the Jerusalem-based Palestinian prisoners' rights group, Addameer.
The call to action is in response to Israel's plans to worsen what are already poor conditions for Palestinians held in its jails. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced the measures last week and the Israeli government is expected to enforce the measures in the coming weeks.

One of the more "serious" changes pending approval by the Israeli cabinet, is ending the policy of separating Hamas prisoners from those affiliated with rival Palestinian faction Fatah, according to Amjad al-Najjar, spokesperson for Hebron-based Palestinian Prisoners Club.

"This has worried prisoners the most," al-Najjar told Al Jazeera from the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

"This may cause fights to break out which could even lead to killings inside the prisons - especially in light of the current political climate," he said.

Other measures include rationing water supplies, blocking funds to the Palestinian Authority, reducing the number of family visits, and preventing access to jail canteens.

For the past 12 years, detainees have mostly lived off food they pay for from the prison canteen.

There, they would buy things like chicken, meat, and canned goods as an alternative to prison meals that are not enough to "sustain detainees throughout the day", al-Najjar explained.

"If they (Israeli Prison Service) take that away, the alternative is simply not an option," he added.

'Diseases' among prisoners

During the first Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, al-Najjar was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but spent six years in detention before being released as part of a prisoner swap deal in 1995.

At the time, prison canteens did not exist, and prisoners had to rely on meals distributed by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS).

Najjar said portions were small, and often infested with bugs.

"It would cause cases of food poisoning and all sorts of chronic diseases among prisoners," he recalled.

"For lunch, each serving wouldn't be enough for a child, let alone a grown man," he said.

Israel has for years held Palestinians in overcrowded prisons with poor hygiene standards which each prisoner confined to a 2.9sq-metre cell, according to Addameer.

Some of the most severe policies Palestinians are subject to include the use of isolation for punishment and medical negligence.
Every year, dozens of Palestinian prisoners are held in isolation under the pretext of "security", Lana Ramadan, Addameer's international advocacy officer, told Al Jazeera.

"The length of time in isolation that prison officials can order extends from 12 hours … to longer periods of six months to one year," Ramadan said.

Another major issue is medical negligence, where doctors employed by the IPS have minimal medical qualifications and are not under the authority of the Israeli Ministry of Health.

Ramadan noted that medical issues among Palestinian prisoners are widespread and range in severity from chest infections and diarrhoea to heart problems and kidney failure.

"Although all prisons include a medical clinic, physicians are on duty irregularly and specialised medical healthcare is generally unavailable," she said, adding that most prisoners are usually prescribed painkillers instead of being given treatment for their condition.

In the past, such conditions have forced prisoners to start open-ended hunger strikes in order to secure basic rights. At times, prison authorities would resort to force-feeding, a practice that sometimes led to the death of Palestinians.

The most recent hunger strike, called for by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, lasted 40 days in 2017. It called for the installation of public telephones, resuming bi-monthly family visits, and ending the policy of solitary confinement, among other demands.

The strikes succeeded in forcing some changes, such as the installation of pay phones.

Ginger Gonzaga Wiki: Everything to Know about the “Wrecked” Star

KONFRONTASI - If you loved Lost and Gilligan’s Island, you must love the new deserted island show TV has to offer. After an entertaining first season, Wrecked is back with season 2. Which means more Ginger Gonzaga hilarity!

Ginger Gonzaga as Emma might be stranded on an island on Wrecked, but we don’t want her or her plane-wrecked funny castaways to escape. The hilarity continues now that Wrecked season 2 is here. And we’re watching it because we can’t get enough of Gonzaga. In fact, we’re celebrating Wrecked season 2 with Ginger Gonzaga’s wiki.

Egypt, Israel in close cooperation against Sinai fighters: Sisi

KONFRONTASI-Egypt's president has told a US broadcaster his country and Israel are cooperating against armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula, a potentially damaging acknowledgement that could explain a request that the network not air the interview.

To bury, not to praise: Lessons from the Fall of a Great Republic

Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny. By Edward Watts.Basic Books; 352 pages; $32. To be published in Britain in March; £25.

SHAKESPEARE MISSED a trick. His version of Julius Caesar’s funeral does, admittedly, have its moments. But he might have done even better had he read his Appian. For while the Bard’s version musters oratorical verve, the historian’s offers a coup de théâtre, complete with the astute use of props, sightlines and stagecraft.

How autocrats can rig the game and damage democracy

By Lucan Ahmad Way and Steven Levitsky
January 4

How autocrats can rig the game and damage democracy

First Muslim woman in Congress WILL be allowed to wear the hijab when she takes her seat as Democrats move to end ban on head coverings

KONFRONTASI  -    One of the first female Muslim members of Congress will take her seat wearing the hijab on Thursday after Democrats change the rule banning religious head coverings on the House floor.

India's hidden years of nuns sexually abused by priests

KONFRONTASI-The stories spill out in the sitting rooms of Catholic convents, where portraits of Jesus keep watch and fans spin quietly overhead.

They spill out in church meeting halls bathed in fluorescent lights, and over cups of cheap instant coffee in convent kitchens. Always, the stories come haltingly, quietly. Sometimes, the nuns speak at little more than a whisper.

Across India, the nuns talk of priests who pushed into their bedrooms and of priests who pressured them to turn close friendships into sex. They talk about being groped and kissed, of hands pressed against them by men they were raised to believe were representatives of Jesus Christ.

"He was drunk," said one nun, beginning her story. "You don't know how to say no," said another.

At its most grim, the nuns speak of repeated rapes, and of a Catholic hierarchy that did little to protect them.

The Vatican has long been aware of nuns sexually abused by priests and bishops in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa, but it has done very little to stop it. 

Now, the Associated Press news agency has investigated the situation in a single country - India - and uncovered a decades-long history of nuns enduring sexual abuse from within the church.

Nuns described in detail the sexual pressure they endured from priests, and nearly two dozen other people - nuns, former nuns and priests, and others - said they had direct knowledge of such incidents.

Still, the scale of the problem in India remains unclear, cloaked by a powerful culture of silence. Many nuns believe abuse is commonplace, insisting most sisters can at least tell of fending off a priest's sexual advances.

The stories spill out in the sitting rooms of Catholic convents, where portraits of Jesus keep watch and fans spin quietly overhead.

They spill out in church meeting halls bathed in fluorescent lights, and over cups of cheap instant coffee in convent kitchens. Always, the stories come haltingly, quietly. Sometimes, the nuns speak at little more than a whisper.

Across India, the nuns talk of priests who pushed into their bedrooms and of priests who pressured them to turn close friendships into sex. They talk about being groped and kissed, of hands pressed against them by men they were raised to believe were representatives of Jesus Christ.

"He was drunk," said one nun, beginning her story. "You don't know how to say no," said another.

At its most grim, the nuns speak of repeated rapes, and of a Catholic hierarchy that did little to protect them.

The Vatican has long been aware of nuns sexually abused by priests and bishops in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa, but it has done very little to stop it. 

Now, the Associated Press news agency has investigated the situation in a single country - India - and uncovered a decades-long history of nuns enduring sexual abuse from within the church.

Nuns described in detail the sexual pressure they endured from priests, and nearly two dozen other people - nuns, former nuns and priests, and others - said they had direct knowledge of such incidents.

Still, the scale of the problem in India remains unclear, cloaked by a powerful culture of silence. Many nuns believe abuse is commonplace, insisting most sisters can at least tell of fending off a priest's sexual advances.

Last year, when repeated complaints to church officials brought no response, a 44-year-old nun filed a police complaint against the bishop who oversees her religious order, accusing him of raping her 13 times over two years.

Soon after, a group of her fellow nuns launched a two-week public protest in India's Catholic heartland, demanding the bishop's arrest.

It was an unprecedented action, dividing India's Catholic community. Inside the accuser's convent in rural Kerala state, she and the nuns who support her are now pariahs, isolated from the other sisters, many of whom insist the bishop is innocent. The protesting nuns get hate mail and avoid going out.

"Some people are accusing us of working against the church, of being against the church. They say, 'You are worshipping Satan,'" said one supporter, Sister Josephine Villoonnickal. "But we need to stand up for the truth."

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