Posts Tagged ‘human rights activists’

Afghan diplomats in Pakistan targeted by ‘state-backed hackers’

May 27, 2018

Afghan diplomats in Pakistan have been warned they are believed to be victims of “government-backed” digital attacks trying to steal their email passwords.

Afghan embassy sources told the BBC two staff members and a generic account received alerts from Google this month.

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Last week Amnesty International detailed attempts to install malware on computers and phones of activists critical of Pakistan’s military.

The army did not comment on allegations intelligence services were to blame.

After the Google warning alerts were sent out, another Afghan diplomat’s email account was hacked and made to send out emails, without his knowledge, containing suspicious attachments.

Google alert received by Afghan diplomat
Afghan diplomats received this warning from Google

The emails purported to contain photographs of rallies by protesters known as the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM). In fact the attachments appear to contain malicious files, although it was not possible to download and examine them.

The PTM movement has accused the Pakistani military of committing human rights abuses in the country’s fight against terrorism. Protests have been non-violent but controversial due to their unusually direct criticism of the Pakistani intelligence services.

Why were the emails sent?

Supporters of the Pakistani military have accused the PTM of working on behalf of the Afghan intelligence services – the two countries regularly accuse each other of working to undermine the other’s security.

A source in the Afghan embassy told the BBC he was concerned that recipients of the emails sent out from the diplomat’s account could believe the Afghan embassy was linked to the movement.

Pakistani members of the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM) and student activists gather during a demonstration in Lahore on April 22, 2018.AFP
PTM rallies have attracted thousands of protesters

The email was sent to addresses publicly linked to a number of political figures in Pakistan. They include a former information minister, and a former law minister.

It was also sent to a former senator from a Pashtun nationalist party, Bushra Gohar. Ms Gohar told the BBC: “I know for a fact that all my accounts are being observed… this is condemnable.”

She added: “Parliament needs to form a committee and look into what is going on.”

Have there been other cyber-attacks?

An employee of the Afghan embassy and a former member of staff were also both targeted by a fake Facebook profile linked to cyber-attacks.

A report by Amnesty International released last week revealed that the profile, “Sana Halimi”, had repeatedly sent malware to a human rights activist in Lahore.

One of the Afghan embassy staff members befriended by “Sana Halimi” told colleagues “she” had engaged him in conversation pretending to be an Afghan woman from the city of Herat.

A screenshot of Sana Halimi's Facebook profileDIEP SAEEDA
The pictures of “Sana Halimi” were stolen from the account of a 21-year-old chef in Lahore

The Facebook account also befriended a number of other human rights activists. One told the BBC it had messaged him in a “flirtatious” manner.

In a report released last week, mobile security company Lookout documented “Sana Halimi” sending out malware via Facebook Messenger on at least two occasions.

The incidents form part of an investigation they carried out into the successful hacking of devices by a team they describe as “likely” being run by the Pakistani military. Their report examined around 30GB of stolen data, a significant part of which appeared to have been taken from Afghan officials.

Who was ‘Sana Halimi’?

The BBC has learnt that the pictures of “Sana Halimi” were in fact stolen from the social media accounts of a 21-year-old chef in Lahore called Salwa Gardezi with no connection to Afghanistan.

Ms Gardezi is a close relative of a prominent political commentator, Ayesha Siddiqa, known for her work critiquing the Pakistani military. It is not clear if her photographs were used because of this connection.

Ms Gardezi said she had only realised her pictures had been copied from her Facebook and Instagram accounts after a BBC article on the malware attacks last week. She told the BBC it was “shocking” her images had been used in this way, and that she had “no connection” to political work at all.

She added that she is planning to lodge a complaint with Pakistan’s Federal Investigations Agency as she is concerned she could wrongly be mistaken as being linked to the cyber attackers.

“I want to clear my image,” she said.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44250769

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Campaign targets Apple over privacy betrayal for Chinese iCloud users

March 30, 2018

From Amnesty International

Amnesty International is launching a new social media campaign targeting Apple over its betrayal of millions of Chinese iCloud users by recklessly making their personal data vulnerable to the arbitrary scrutiny of the Chinese government.

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Amnesty is urging Apple CEO Tim Cook not sell out iCloud users in China.

In a nod to Apple’s iconic ‘1984’ advert, the campaign takes an Orwellian theme with the line “All Apple users are equal but some are less equal than others”. It launches as the tech company’s chief executive, Tim Cook, touches down in Beijing to co-chair a prestigious business forum.

Apple’s pursuit of profits has left Chinese iCloud users facing huge new privacy risks.
Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

“Tim Cook is not being upfront with Apple’s Chinese users when insisting that their private data will always be secure. Apple’s pursuit of profits has left Chinese iCloud users facing huge new privacy risks,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

“Apple’s influential ‘1984’ ad challenged a dystopian future but in 2018 the company is now helping to create one. Tim Cook preaches the importance of privacy but for Apple’s Chinese customers’ these commitments are meaningless. It is pure doublethink.”

“By handing over its China iCloud service to a local company without sufficient safeguards, the Chinese authorities now have potentially unfettered access to all Apple’s Chinese customers’ iCloud data. Apple knows it, yet has not warned its customers in China of the risks.”

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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at China’s World Internet Conference in December 2017. VCG/VCG via Getty Images

On 28 February, Apple transferred the operation of its iCloud service for Chinese users to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data. The move affects any photos, documents, contacts, messages and other user data and content that Chinese users store on Apple’s cloud-based servers.

On 1 February, Amnesty International wrote to Apple raising our concerns about the changes and asked the company to provide further information. Apple has yet to respond to the request.

    Cook might be setting himself up for a fall over privacy issues in China. — AP

    Cook might be setting himself up for a fall over privacy issues in China. — AP

    Privacy threat

    New Chinese legislation enacted in 2017 requires cloud services to be operated by Chinese companies, meaning companies like Apple must either lease server space inside China or establish joint ventures with Chinese partners.

    Chinese domestic law gives the government virtually unrestricted access to user data stored inside China without adequate protection for users’ rights to privacy, freedom of expression or other basic human rights.

    As a result, Chinese internet users can face arrest and imprisonment for merely expressing, communicating or accessing information and ideas the authorities do not approve of.

    Amnesty’s online campaign urges consumers to tell Tim Cook to reject double standards when it comes to privacy for Apple’s Chinese customers, whose personal data is now at risk of ending up in the hands of the government.

    Think Different

    Apple’s chief executive will be in Beijing on 24-26 March to co-chair the China Development Forum, which aims to foster relationships between the Chinese government and global business leaders. Apple reported record revenues of US$17.9 billion for Greater China in the last quarter.

    “While Apple may claim it treats its customers equally, some are less equal than others. Profits should never threaten privacy. It’s time for Apple to Think Different when it comes to the privacy of its millions of Chinese customers,” said Nicholas Bequelin.

    “Apple needs to be much more transparent about the risks to privacy posed by recent changes to the iCloud service in China.”

    1984

    Directed by Ridley Scott, Apple’s 1984 advert of the same year is considered to be one of the greatest TV commercials of all time. Scores of grey clad clones are fixated on a giant screen as Big Brother celebrates “Information Purification Directives”. An athletic woman in bright clothes storms past troops to take a sledge-hammer to the screen unleashing an explosion. A voice over says “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’”

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/apple-privacy-betrayal-for-chinese-icloud-users/

    Related:

    Apple stores up Yahoo-like trouble in China — Amnesty International fighting Apple in China

    March 30, 2018

    Opinion

    Friday, 30 Mar 2018

      Cook might be setting himself up for a fall over privacy issues in China. — AP

      Cook might be setting himself up for a fall over privacy issues in China. — AP

      HONG KONG: Apple boss Tim Cook could turn out to be the yin to Yahoo’s Jerry Yang. The link between technological eras is the matter of data privacy in China.

      A few weeks ago, Apple began storing Chinese iCloud accounts inside the People’s Republic. New rules meant it had to do so or stop providing the service. Cook reckoned his company could offer its customers better security than the alternatives.

      The change also means, however, that local law dictates what information authorities can demand. Human rights activists are worried. Amnesty International started a social-media campaign against Apple on March 22. 

      Facebook’s latest data crisis is indicative of the risks. Mark Zuckerberg’s social network lost more than US$50bil (RM193.28bil) – or about a tenth – of its market value early last week after media investigations revealed that information from 50 million user profiles could have been misused by a political consultancy. Back when Yahoo was a web powerhouse, it suffered an even more relevant experience.

      Mere hours before their testimony, shares of Chinese e-commerce outfit Alibaba.com, in which Yahoo had bought a 40% stake to further its PRC ambitions, had tripled in their Hong Kong debut.

      Yang defended himself at the time by saying that to do business in China meant “we have to comply with local law.” At a conference in Guangzhou last December, Cook struck a similar note: “When you go into a country and participate in the market, you are subject to the laws and regulation of that country.” Apple is by no means alone. Amazon, Microsoft and others are playing by Beijing’€™s rules, too.

      Nevertheless, Cook oversees the US$854bil (RM3.30tril) gorilla of tech. He also rejected FBI demands to unlock an alleged killer’s iPhone, establishing himself as a defender of privacy even if the nuances of the case were complicated. That makes him a bigger and easier target. Apple and its investors should brace for the blowback.

      — Reuters

      Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2018/03/30/apple-stores-up-yahoo-like-trouble-in-china-opinion/#IRdGZKQLbO7G9vZB.99

      U.S. Authorities Get Access to Data Stored on Overseas Cloud Servers

      March 23, 2018

      Spending bill signed by President Trump would help with criminal probes but raises privacy concerns

      Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at a 2016 Microsoft tech gathering in Ireland, where the company stores some data.
      Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at a 2016 Microsoft tech gathering in Ireland, where the company stores some data. PHOTO: CLODAGH KILCOYNE/REUTERS

      WASHINGTON—A $1.3 trillion spending deal that President Donald Trump signed Friday includes a measure that gives U.S. investigators access to data stored on overseas cloud servers, resolving a long-running legal battle between law enforcement and big tech companies.

       

      But the measure drew widespread criticism from privacy and human-rights activists, who suggested U.S. tech companies—under pressure in Washington—had retreated on the issue.

      They also suggested the bill could leave data stored in the U.S. vulnerable to demands by authoritarian foreign governments.

      The measure, known as the Cloud Act, would create a legal framework for resolving the frequent conflicts that have sprung up recently over the issue.

      It would amend U.S. law to make clear that law-enforcement warrants can apply to data that U.S.-based tech companies store anywhere in the world. But the act also would give companies a right to challenge warrants in court based on privacy laws in the specific country where the data are stored.

      It also would allow for bilateral agreements between the U.S. and other countries over how to deal with disputes in the future, including other countries’ requests for data in the U.S.

      The issue has come up more frequently in recent years, as big U.S. tech companies have stored more data overseas. One problem fueling the conflicts is that the 1986 federal law in question, the Stored Communications Act, is ill-suited to current cross-border data-storage practices.

      In one case pending before the Supreme Court, a federal appeals court sided with Microsoft Corp. in holding that warrants for customer data can’t be enforced on U.S. providers if the data are stored overseas.

      The Justice Department and state attorneys general say the lower-court ruling has hindered investigations into an array of crimes, from narcotics trafficking to arson to child pornography. Electronic evidence is now critical to virtually every criminal investigation, they say.

      But Microsoft, Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit and other technology companies have argued the Justice Department’s position would leave them caught in the middle between U.S. law-enforcement demands and their obligation to abide by privacy laws in foreign jurisdictions.

      The Justice Department applied for a warrant requiring Microsoft to turn over email information from an account allegedly tied to illegal drug activity in the U.S. Microsoft handed over some account data that were stored in the U.S. but said it shouldn’t have to hand over the emails, which were stored on a server in Ireland.

      The companies say the case ultimately could threaten American dominance in the $250 billion cloud-computing industry, because foreign clients won’t use U.S. firms if their data aren’t protected.

      The enactment of the Cloud legislation might leave little for the Supreme Court to decide in the Microsoft case. When the court heard oral arguments in February, multiple justices said congressional intervention would be welcome.

      “It would be good if Congress enacted legislation that modernized this,” Justice Samuel Alito said.

      Tech groups criticized the new measure’s implications for privacy in several respects, casting it as a surrender of sorts in the wake of the Microsoft case.

      “The Cloud Act is a disappointing outcome after so many human-rights groups weighed in on the Microsoft case at the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

      EPIC and other groups had pushed for many updates to the 1980s-era privacy law, he said, “but they were ignored.” Greg Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology said the deal gives the Justice Department too much leeway to open up U.S. data to authoritarian foreign governments.

      “DOJ could use this legislation to diminish privacy rights world-wide, or to persuade other governments to raise their surveillance standards in order to qualify for an agreement,“ he said. ”We fear the U.S. Congress hasn’t done enough to require DOJ to make the right decisions.”

      “The internet industry applauds Congress for including the Cloud Act in the omnibus spending bill,” said Melika Carroll, a senior vice president for the Internet Association, a trade group representing big tech companies. “It’s critical that we modernize U.S. privacy laws to reflect current realities of how data is stored around the world. Passing the Cloud Act will enable law enforcement to gather data stored abroad for the purposes of investigating serious crimes, while still protecting individual privacy rights.”

      Write to John D. McKinnon at john.mckinnon@wsj.com

       https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-authorities-get-access-to-data-stored-on-overseas-cloud-servers-1521827685

      Mass trial of Turkey alleged coup ringleaders resumes

      October 30, 2017

      AFP

      © AFP/File / by Fulya OZERKAN | The case is being heard in Sincan at a purpose-built facility to hear coup-related trials

      ANKARA (AFP) – A mass trial in Turkey is set to resume Monday of more than 220 suspects, including former generals, accused of being among the ringleaders of last year’s coup bid to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

      The suspects face life sentences if convicted of charges ranging from using violence to try to overthrow the government and parliament, to killing nearly 250 people.

      Turkey blames the July 15, 2016 coup attempt on Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a claim he strongly denies.

      Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, is among several of the 221 suspects named in the indictment but are on the run, with the rest set to appear in court.

      The attempted coup left 249 people dead, not counting 24 coup-plotters killed on the night of the putsch attempt.

      Also among the suspects in one of Turkey’s highest-profile prosecutions are several high-ranking military officers including ex-air force commander Akin Ozturk.

      Several of those on trial are accused of leading the so-called “Peace At Home Council”, the name the plotters are said to have given themselves the night of the failed overthrow.

      The case is being heard in Sincan near the capital Ankara, at a facility that was purpose-built to hear coup-related trials.

      – Massive crackdown –

      In the opening trial in May, alleged coup plotters were booed by protesters as they entered the courtroom, with some shouting slogans in favour of “death penalty” for the suspects.

      The trial is one of many being held across the country to judge the coup suspects in what is the biggest legal process of Turkey’s modern history.

      The government has launched a massive crackdown under state of emergency laws imposed in the wake of the failed coup which have been extended several times.

      Over 140,000 people, including public sector employees, have been sacked or suspended over alleged links to the coup while 50,000 people have been arrested since July 2016.

      This week will also see other hearings in Istanbul including journalists from opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper who are standing trial on charges of aiding and abetting terrorist organisations.

      One of Turkey’s acclaimed authors Asli Erdogan will appear before a court Tuesday on charges of spreading terror propaganda on account of her links to a pro-Kurdish newspaper.

      In December she was released pending trial, after 132 days of pre-trial detention.

      Last week, an Istanbul court ordered the release on judicial control of eight human rights activists including Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser, as well as a German and a Swede.

      The cases involving journalists have received criticism from human rights advocates who claim the government is seeking to stifle dissent.

      by Fulya OZERKAN

      Turkish PM Tries to Downplay Tensions With Germany — Turkey continues to regard Germany as a “strategic partner in Europe”

      July 21, 2017

      BERLIN — The Latest on Germany’s tougher stance on Turkey following the jailing of a human rights activist (all times local):

      2:15 p.m.

      Turkey’s prime minister has sought to downplay worries of growing tensions between Turkey and Germany following the jailing of six human rights activists, which included one German.

      Image result for Binali Yildirim, photos

      Binali Yildirim

      Binali Yildirim said Turkey continues to regard Germany as a “strategic partner in Europe” and that now and then there may be “tensions in the relations due to considerations caused by domestic politics.”

      Yildirim urged “cool-headedness” and said there is “no benefit to Germany or to Turkey if relations are damaged.”

      Yildirim’s comments came a day after Germany toughened its stance toward Ankara following the jailing of six human rights activists, which included four Turks, a Swede as well as the German.

      Berlin told German citizens traveling to Turkey to exercise caution and threatened to withhold backing for investments.

      ___

      8:50 a.m.

      Germany’s finance minister is comparing Turkey with communist East Germany after his government toughened its stance toward Ankara following the jailing of a German human rights activist.

      The government a day earlier told German citizens traveling to Turkey to exercise caution and threatened to withhold backing for investments.

      Image result for Wolfgang Schaeuble, photos

      Wolfgang Schaeuble

      Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Friday’s edition of Bild newspaper that Turkey is now arresting people arbitrarily and failing to comply with minimum consular standards.

      He was quoted as saying: “It reminds me of how things used to be in East Germany. It was clear to anyone who traveled there: if something happens to you, no one can help you.”

      Schaeuble added that if Turkey doesn’t stop playing “games,” Germany will have to tell people: “You travel to Turkey at your own risk.”

      Related:

      Turkey Accuses Germany of Harbouring ‘Terrorists’ — Germany Overhauls its Foreign Policy for Turkey — Germany reviews export credits to Turkey over blacklisted firms

      July 21, 2017

      Al Jazeera

      Reaction follows German threat to slap sanctions and decision to issue travel advisory amid row over activists’ arrest.

      Image may contain: 1 person

      Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister. Reuters photo

      Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, has accused Germany of harbouring “terrorists” after the country stepped up a travel advisory for Turkey and considered slapping sanctions over its arrest of human rights activists.

      .

      Germany told its citizens on Thursday to exercise caution if travelling to Turkey, with Sigmar Gabriel, foreign minister, warning that his government could no longer guarantee its citizens’ safety in the face of “arbitrary” mass arrests.

      The warning came after Turkey arrested six human-rights activists, including a German national, on accusations of “terrorism”.

      READ MORE: Rejected asylum – From Karachi to Germany and back again

      Germany, Turkey’s chief export partner, called the allegations absurd.

      Image result for Merkel, Erdogan, photos

      File photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. © Tobias Schwarz / Reuters

      Gabriel said Germany would review state guarantees for foreign investment in Turkey, and reconsider its support for billions in European Union financial flows to Turkey.

      Germany’s Bild newspaper, citing government sources, reported that the country was also putting arms projects involving Turkey on hold.

      Stance ‘unacceptable’

      Cavusoglu called Germany’s stance “unacceptable”.

      “As a country providing shelter to PKK and FETO terrorists in its own territory, statements by Germany are just double standards and unacceptable,” he said on Twitter, referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party and the network of the US-based religious leader Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Turkey for last year’s failed coup.

      Germany and Turkey have clashed over numerous issues in recent months, including the pre-trial detention of a Turkish-German journalist, Deniz Yucel, and Germany’s refusal to extradite asylum seekers Turkey alleges were involved in the coup attempt.

      The latest row broke out after a Turkish court on Tuesday ordered six rights activists, including German national Peter Steudtner and Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser, to remain in custody for allegedly aiding a “terror” group.

      Gabriel broke off his holiday to deal with the crisis.

      He said Steudtner “never wrote about Turkey, he had no contacts in the political establishment … and never appeared as a critic.”

      He said any German national travelling to Turkey could suffer the same fate.

      Gabriel also accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of trying to muzzle “every critical voice” with mass arrests.

      Erdogan says the crackdown, in which roughly 50,000 people have been detained and 150,000 sacked or suspended from the judiciary and journalism to academia, was essential after the failed coup.

      Many companies have also been seized on allegations of links to “terrorism”.

      Without legal certainty

      Gabriel said he could not advise companies to invest in a country without legal certainty where “even completely innocent companies are judged as being close to terrorists”.

      “I can’t see how we as the German government can continue to guarantee corporate investments in Turkey if there is the threat of arbitrary expropriation for political reasons.”

      Germany still wanted to rebuild relations with its long-time ally, he said, but added that Erdogan’s government must first “return to European values”.

      Juergen Hardt, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative party, said the EU candidate country had now “left the path to Europe”.

      Gabriel, left, and Cavusoglu have engaged in a war of words over the Turkish arrests [File: AP]

       

      “No one invests in a country … in which the judiciary has been degraded to be a helper of the ruling AKP party,” he said.

      Cavusoglu hit back at Gabriel’s remarks, saying threats and blackmail would find no answers in Turkey, and that Germany and Turkey needed to focus on their long-term mutual goals instead.

      “We don’t see such threats against Turkey as worthy of a serious country,” Cavusoglu said in Cyprus.

      The foreign ministry in Ankara said Turkey would not make concessions on its judicial independence and struggle against “terrorism” “for financial matters such as loans, funds or the [European] Customs Union”.

      READ MORE: Germany to withdraw troops from Turkish base

      For his part, Ibrahim Kalin, Turkey’s presidential spokesman, accused Germany of “great political irresponsibility” in stepping up its travel warning.

      He suggested Gabriel’s remarks were intended to win votes at national elections in two months. “They need to rid themselves of this abdication of reason and think rationally,” Kalin said.

      Gabriel’s warnings to private as well as business travellers could deal a blow to Turkey’s tourism industry. So far this year, bookings from Germany have accounted for about 10 percent of Turkey’s tourists.

      List of companies

      The German newspaper Die Zeit reported on Wednesday that Turkish authorities had, several weeks ago, handed their German counterparts a list of 68 German companies they accused of having links to Gulen.

      They included chemicals manufacturer BASF, which confirmed it was on a list that had been passed to it by German police but declined to comment on the allegations.

      Mehmet Simsek, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, said on Thursday the reports were untrue.

      Germany was Turkey’s top export destination in 2016, buying $14bn worth of Turkish goods.

      It was also the second biggest source of Turkish imports, at $21.5bn. Only China, at $25.4bn, exported more to Turkey.

      Source: News agencies

      http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/turkey-accuses-germany-harbouring-terrorists-170720193753832.html

      *******************************************

      Germany overhauls Turkey policy

      Germany is sharpening its policy toward Turkey in response to jailings of journalists and human rights activists. The new tone together with an increased travel warning has been met with outrage in Ankara.

      Germany’s foreign minister interrupted his vacation on the North Sea to return to Berlin to deliver the most strongly worded statement yet against Turkey’s imprisonment of German journalists and human rights activists.

      “We want Turkey to be a part of the West, or at least remain in its current position, but it takes two to tango,” Sigmar Gabriel at a press conference in Berlin. “I cannot make out any willingness on the part of the current Turkish government to follow this path with us. For that reason Germany is forced to reorient its Turkey policy. The first consequences will be new travel advisories for German citizens in Turkey.”

      Gabriel said that Germans traveling to Turkey were incurring “risks,” and the ministry website recommended Germans should exercise “heightened caution” when visiting Turkey since “consular access” to Germans detained in Turkey had been “restricted in violation of the obligations of international law.”

      Read more: Germany reviews export credits to Turkey over blacklisted firms

      Gabriel said that the measures were being taken after consulting with both conservative chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democratic chairman and chancellor candidate Martin Schulz. Although they stopped short of a travel warning against Turkey, they do represent an increased frostiness between the two countries.

       Screenshot of 687performance.de website Peter Steudtner

      Steudtner’s detention has prompted the latest crisis

      ‘Obviously unfounded accusations’

      The re-calibration of Germany’s Turkey policy came after a court in Istanbul ordered six human rights activists, including Peter Steudtner from Berlin, to investigative custody on Tuesday. Turkey accuses them of supporting terrorism.  Gabriel specifically mentioned Steudtner.

      “These accusations are obviously unfounded and have simply been dragged out irrationally,” the foreign minister said, adding that Steudtner had taken no position on current Turkish politics and was quite possibly present in the country for the first time.

      The Amnesty International representative was arrested earlier this month at a conference in Istanbul while teaching Turkish colleagues about IT security and non-violent conflict resolution. German journalist Deniz Yucel has been held in investigative custody since late February. Seven other Germans are also currently in such custody.

      Gabriel said that Germany had showed patience in the ongoing row with Ankara and hadn’t responded to incendiary comparisons between the Federal Republic and Nazi Germany. He said Berlin had tried to restart relations with Turkey, but had been “repeatedly disappointed.”

      “The government and the coalition parties will be discussing further consequences,” Gabriel said, adding that a range of financial sanctions were also under consideration.

      Access to German detainees

      On Wednesday, Turkey’s ambassador to Germany was summoned to the German Foreign Ministry and warned that Berlin does not accept the detention of its citizens. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said that Germany must take a tougher stance towards Turkey, but cautioned that diplomatic relations also had to be maintained.

      “We have to keep in mind that German citizens are sitting in Turkish jails, and we need access to them,” Maas told the DPA news agency. “I think it would be a mistake right now to give Turkey any arguments to deny us that access.”

      Turkey has accused Germany of interfering in its internal affairs. There has been speculation that Erdogan is using the German detainees essentially as hostages in an attempt to force Berlin to deport Turkish citizens in Germany whom Ankara considers terrorists.

      Other German politicians have called for a range of measures to punish Turkey from general economic sanctions to a cancellation of the deal between the EU and Turkey on refugees.

      Türkei Protest an der Uni Ankara (Getty Images/AFP/A. Altan)

      There have been mass arrests since the failed attempt to bring down Erdogan last July

      Turkish non-delight

      The Turkish government criticized Gabriel’s remarks and the announced change in the German position. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meanwhile reacted by accusing Germany of harboring terrorists:

      View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

      As a country providing shelter to PKK&FETO terrorists in its own territory, statements by Germany are just double standards&unacceptable.

      Cavusoglu said on Twitter said on Twitter that “As a country providing shelter to PKK and FETO terrorists in its own territory, statements by Germany are just double standards and unacceptable,” referring to the outlawed, militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the religious-inspired network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen that Ankara blames for the July 15, 2016 failed coup.

      Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, meanwhile said: “We strongly condemn statements that German citizens who travel to Turkey are not safe and that German companies in Turkey should have hesitations and concerns.”

      The Chairman of the Commission for Foreign Affairs Taka Ozhan, a member of Erdogan’s AKP party, repeated Turkish accusations that Germany is harboring Turkish citizens who are trying to overthrow the government – in particular, Kurdish separatists and members of the Gulen movement.

      “What we’re seeing in Germany at the moment is a crisis of principals,” Ozhan said in a statement to Deutsche Welle’s Turkish division. “The question is whether terrorism is supported or not…The Terrorists think ‘Once we get to Germany, we’re home safe.’ That has to change.”

      The number of Turks applying for asylum in Germany dramatically increased last year amidst a government crackdown after the failed Turkish coup on July 15, 2016. Since then, tens of thousands of people have been arrested and more than 100,000 have lost their jobs in Turkey.

      http://www.dw.com/en/germany-overhauls-turkey-policy/a-39766611

      Philippine President Duterte threatens human rights activists

      November 29, 2016
      By   – Reporter / @MRamosINQ
      / 12:02 AM November 30, 2016
      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte AP

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte AP

      President Duterte has threatened to kill human rights activists critical of his war on illegal drugs and called warnings he could be charged in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the bloody campaign “bullshit.”

      In a speech in Malacañang on Monday night, Mr. Duterte said those accusing him of ordering the summary execution of drug suspects should be blamed if the country’s drug problem worsened.

      “The human rights (defenders) said I ordered the killings. I told them ‘OK. Let’s stop. We’ll let them (drug users) multiply so that when it’s harvest time, more people will die,” the President said at the inaugural switch-on of a coal-fired power plant.

      “I will include you because you are the reason why their numbers swell,” he said in Filipino.

      Official figures show that police antidrug operations have left 2,500 dead since Mr. Duterte took office on June 30. Another 2,500 drug-related deaths mainly attributed to vigilantes have been reported.

      An ICC prosecutor last month said The Hague-based tribunal may have jurisdiction to prosecute the perpetrators of the drug-related killings.

      ICC, US

      “You threaten me that you will jail me? International Criminal Court? Bullshit,” Mr. Duterte said on Monday.

      He scolded the United States for what he called hypocritical threats to try him in the ICC, to which Washington itself is not a signatory. He did not specify when the US threat was made.

      The United States chose not to sign the Rome Statute to protect former President George W. Bush, Mr. Duterte said, without elaborating.

      “America itself is threatening to jail me in the International Criminal Court,” Mr. Duterte said. “It is not a signatory of that body. Why? Because at that time, they were afraid Bush would face it.”

      For months, the President has been ridiculing concerns that extrajudicial killings could be taking place in his antidrug war, and the United States, European Union and United Nations have been the preferred targets of his comments.

      The brash former mayor and prosecutor said lawyers in Europe were “rotten,” “stupid” and had a “brain like a pea.”

      This month, Mr. Duterte said he might follow Russia’s move to withdraw from the ICC, describing it as “useless.”

      According to Mr. Duterte, the West has failed to comprehend the gravity of the Philippines’ drug problem. He has said he is ready to “rot in jail” to achieve his goals.

      There is nothing wrong with threatening to kill bad elements, he said on Monday.

      “I will never allow my country to be thrown to the dogs,” the President said. “I said, when I was a mayor, ‘If you destroy my city with drugs I will kill you.’

      “Simple as that …. When was it a crime to say, ‘I will kill you,’ in protecting my country?”

      Validated list

      Mr. Duterte showed his audience a 10-centimeter-thick pile of documents containing the “validated list” of about 5,000 public officials allegedly behind the illegal drug trade.

      He said most of those benefiting from the illicit business were villageofficials who were earning “easy money.”

      “[That’s why] I acceded to [the postponement of] an election this year for the barangay captains. We would have lost to the money of the drug industry,” he said.

      Mr. Duterte said he also showed the documents to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during a one-on-one meeting.

      The President had blamed Arroyo and his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, for allowing the drug trade to proliferate during their incumbency.

      “I am not trying to scare you,” he said.

      “This is the drug industry of the Philippines. These are all the names,” he said.

      “I showed this to [former] President Arroyo. I said, ‘Ma’am, we are in a bind. I really do not know how to [handle this]. I surrender. I cannot do this.’”

      Even if he wanted to kill all those on the list, Mr. Duterte said he “would not have the time and resources to do it.”

      He said “narcopolitics” was already existing in the Philippines “given the so many thousands of policemen and mayors involved” in the sale and distribution of illegal drugs.

      Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/849192/duterte-threatens-rights-activists#ixzz4RPnMAPUj
      Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

      Related:

      .
      .
      .
      .

      China’s drug rehab assistance astounds Duterte (They Really Want Sole Ownership of The South China Sea) — “China’s government has absolutely no credibility in drug addiction treatment”

      October 11, 2016

      China is known for its cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of drug addicts.

      By Genalyn Kabiling
      Manila Bulletin

      As other western nations pounded on the government over its bloody drug crackdown, China is planning to build more drug rehabilitation centers in the country, a move that drew praises from President Duterte.

      The President said he was “astounded” by China’s assistance to his anti-drug campaign without “any publicity” as the first Beijing-funded rehabilitation center at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija will be completed soon.

      MB.COM.PH

      “The 1,500[-bed] dormitory is about to be finished and they are promising for more,” the President said in his remarks before a business forum in Davao City last Friday.

      Duterte expressed gratitude to China for helping the country, especially amid his administration’s present budgetary constraints on building rehabilitation facilities for drug addicts.

      “Four million drug addicts is no joke. We are not a rich country. It is only China who has helped us,” he said.

      “China is about to complete [the facility] sub rosa. Walang hambog, walang news, neither any publicity, it’s about to be completed. It would house 1,400 drug addicts in Fort Magsaysay,” he added.

      Duterte said he has asked the military to open their camps “to allow people who would want to donate rehab facilities.”

      .
      Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/chinas-drug-rehab-assistance-astounds-duterte/#X8DiSTgJkd9T1YLF.99

      Peace and Freedom note: Addiction treatment has almost nothing to do with the brick, concrete and furniture. You will need dedicated, competent drug treatment professionals. You won’t find them in China. If you do, send us an email.

      jecarey2603@cox.net

      ************************************

      China’s new opium wars: Battling addiction in Beijing

      China has absolutely no credibility in drug addiction treatment

      In China, addicts face mandatory detention and must contend with the stigma Chinese history has placed on drug use.

       Shirley, a former drug addict, believes Chinese society has been ‘scared of drugs’ since the Opium Wars [Allison Griner/Al Jazeera]
      .
      ByAllison Griner
      .
      Allison Griner is a freelance foreign correspondent from Jacksonville, Florida.
      .FAST FACTS: ADDICTION IN CHINA
      • The opium trade hit its peak in 1906, with 35,000 tonnes grown in China
      • 13.5 million Chinese were thought to be addicted to opium at the time
      • By the time the Communist Party came to power in 1949, 20 million Chinese were addicted
      • By the 1990s, that number had dropped to around 70,000
      • But it started to climb again as China grew more prosperous

      Beijing, China – She appeared out of the black of an early spring night, wearing a biker jacket and a slicked-back ponytail. One of Beijing’s biggest commercial areas was only a block away, but instead she turned down a narrow alleyway and into a small restaurant.

      She strode past the diners, the cash register too, and pushed open a plywood door. Inside was a small circular table surrounded by low orange stools, sandwiched in a room containing a row of industrial kitchen sinks and a drying rack for dishes.

      She sat down, opened her laptop and waited. It was 7:30pm on a Monday. The Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting would start once more people showed up. Only two others did, ultimately. Much of China was busy celebrating the yearly Tomb-Sweeping holiday.

      But the meeting went ahead as usual. They passed around plastic cups of Coke and laminated reading material, then bowed their heads to pray, as they did at the start of every meeting.

      What they were about to share was personal, achingly so, and anonymity was crucial, as the group’s name suggests.

      Shirley, who asked to be identified only by her English alias, is one of the Beijing branch’s founding members. She knows NA’s dictates well – particularly, that members conceal their identities “at the level of press”.

      Addiction has been part of Shirley’s life since she was a teenager, but finding the right treatment took years. Drugs weren’t the only problem. She also had to contend with the weight of Chinese history, and the acute stigma it has placed on drug use.

      ‘Great shame’ 

      China is believed to have more narcotics regulations than any other country in the world, with more than 500 laws and guidelines implemented at various levels of government over different periods of time.

      These “relentless and draconian countermeasures” have done little to lessen China’s drug problem, according to a report released last year by the Brookings Institute, a Washington, DC-based think-tank.

      In 2012, the NGO Human Rights Watch included China in its report, Torture in the Name of Treatment. It condemned China, along with several Southeast Asian countries, for “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” of drug addicts.

      Before Shirley had ever even touched drugs, she knew the stigma that addiction carried.

      The Opium War brought great shame to China … I think the whole nation has been frightened by drugs since then.

      Shirley, former drug addict

      Even as a young girl, the mere possibility that she might develop a drug habit was a constant source of anxiety for her parents. Her mother had once given her a gold-plated clock, and Shirley remembers coming home from middle school one day to find her parents eyeing the polishing powder she used to buff it.

      “My parents were terrified. They thought it was drugs,” she recalls. They were relieved to hear that it wasn’t.

      “But what they didn’t expect is that I became a drug addict in the end anyway.”

      The story of how she first encountered drugs is common. She says she wanted to hang out with the cool, rich kids in her neighbourhood, so she started binge drinking when she was about 16.

      That escalated to heroin, China’s most popular drug at the time, followed by ecstasy, weed and other banned substances.

      It was the 1990s, and a heroin craze was taking off, fuelled by China’s burgeoning economy.

      But Shirley says that part of the blame for her generation’s addiction problems also lies with the Chinese media.

      Fear tactics and intimidation were the tools used to scare young people away from drugs, she says. At school, she was subject to dire warnings: Take drugs, and your family will fall apart. On TV, documentaries like The Chinese Sword (1995) depicted explicit, drug-related violence.

      When she first tried heroin, Shirley expected to become addicted instantly, to be sucked into a wormhole of vice and decay. That was what she had learned from the media, but when that didn’t happen, she began to wonder: What if I’m an outlier? What if I’m special somehow?


      RELATED – The other China boom 


      Her understanding had been distorted by the media, which in turn had been skewed by China’s traumatic history with drugs.

      “The Opium War brought great shame to China,” Shirley says. “I think the whole nation has been frightened by drugs since then. The reason why drug education is exaggerated stems from this fear.”

      Shirley’s arms bear the scars of heroin injections [Allison Griner/Al Jazeera]

      The opium scourge
      .

      Opium, in particular, is blamed for launching a “century of national humiliation” in China.

      It arrived through traders as early as the 7th century, under the Tang dynasty, but it was only in the 18th and 19th centuries that it was identified as a scourge against the Chinese people.

      It wasn’t as if opium’s “poisonous” qualities were previously unknown. They were. But for several centuries, opium enjoyed a reputation as a pastime for the elite. Its value rivalled gold, and its uses were myriad; it was a medicine, an aphrodisiac and a means of socialising.

      Traders from Portugal, Britain and elsewhere saw profit in China’s opium demand. The ruling Qing dynasty, however, saw a threat. As its power started to collapse, opium’s influence expanded, reaching across China’s social strata.

      A succession of emperors, some opium users themselves, would grapple with how best to control China’s drug use. Under the Qing dynasty, China became one of the first nations to institute opium regulations. Early on, it debated treatment methods and deterrents – a debate that still finds resonance today. Governments continue to weigh the merits of drug prohibition and legalisation, just as China did so long ago.


      RELATED – Breaking bad habits: Mindful addiction recovery 


      One 1729 edict, recorded by the British social reformer Joshua Rowntree, proposed a whole series of punishments – banishment, beatings and strangulation among them – for participants in the opium trade, but not the opium smokers themselves.

      A letter to Britain’s Queen Victoria in 1839 shows a shift in this policy, just over a century later. Lin Zexu, an official in China’s imperial court, explained: “He who sells opium shall receive the death penalty and he who smokes it also the death penalty.”

      By the dawn of the 20th century, yet another system was put in place. Proven addicts could purchase opium legally with a licence, on the condition that they commit to a detoxification schedule. Government officials, for instance, had only six months to get clean.

      As the Communist Party rose to power in 1949, it zeroed in on the remaining vestiges of China’s ‘shame’ – the country’s ever-growing addict population.

      The opium trade hit its peak in 1906, with 35,000 tonnes grown domestically and an extra 4,000 tonnes brought in from abroad. By that time, China had lost two wars over opium to “barbarians” from Europe, and its “celestial court” was fatally weakened. A whopping 13.5 million Chinese, out of an estimated population of 400 million, were hooked on opium, including 27 percent of the country’s male population.

      Only after World War II did the “century of humiliation” come to a close.

      As the Communist Party rose to power in 1949, it zeroed in on the remaining vestiges of China’s “shame” – the country’s ever-growing addict population. Estimates suggested there were as many as 20 million, or five percent of the population.

      “Because of the Opium Wars, China was still in a crisis mode, in terms of its political, economic and cultural identity,” says Hong Lu, co-author of the book China’s Drug Practices and Policies. Contemporary drug laws were an opportunity for the new government “to reflect upon the shame, the degrading past”.

      Under the Communist Party, opium fields were razed. As with previous governments, addicts had to subscribe to a detoxification schedule, or else suffer punishment. More than 800 traffickers were put to death, and many more were successfully prosecuted.

      A nationwide campaign spread an anti-drug message, and systems of neighbourhood surveillance were implemented to report local drug users.

      In 1953, barely five years into the new regime, the Communist leadership made a stunning announcement: China was effectively drug-free. No official statistics were released, but addiction rates are widely believed to have plummeted, thanks to the new measures.

      Later, when China started registering drug addicts in the 1990s, it found only 70,000 – a dramatic drop compared with the millions four decades earlier. That number, however, would climb as China grew increasingly prosperous.

      Opium smokers in China, in the 1880s [Lai Afong/Public Domain]

      Mandatory detention
      .

      Techniques for treating addiction from the early Communist era survived into modern times.

      Shirley encountered the mandatory detention system, a brand of treatment the United Nations denounces the world over. In a 2016 joint letter, several UN bureaus stated that these systems are “not scientifically valid”. Moreover, they warned that mandatory detention can lead to “some of the most egregious forms of human rights abuses”.

      The Chinese government, for its part, fired back at its critics during a UN special session on drugs this April. In his speech, state councillor Guo Shengkun warned other world leaders not to “interfere in other countries’ internal affairs”.


      RELATED – Mexico’s ‘lost generation’ of drug addicts


      He said that the country had recorded 1.21 million instances of “compulsory isolation” for addicts over the past decade. It remains one of the most common forms of treatment.

      Shirley’s family discovered her drug habit when she was about 22. Her father sent her out of Beijing to stay in a different province for eight months, hoping that the distance would help her get clean.

      “That was the longest time I’d stayed away from drugs,” she says.

      When she returned home, she dropped to her knees and swore to her father that she would never take heroin again. But then she relapsed.

      “This time I felt completely crushed,” she recalls. “It gives you the feeling that the confidence and dignity you harbour inside your heart is collapsing, little by little.”

      She tried to stop. She even came up with a strategy: For every three days she was using, she would spend three days clean.

      “During that time, I would stare at the clock every day until the last minute of the third day. Then I would storm out to find drugs,” she says. “I felt as if my whole body was being torn apart.”

      She even came up with a strategy: For every three days she was using, she would spend three days clean.

      Her boyfriend, whom she had known since childhood, had been held in custody for drug use, and she arranged to meet him after his release. He was furious to find out that she had been seeing other men in his absence.

      Their meeting didn’t go as planned. Shirley had come over to resolve their dispute, but the police had arrived too, to check up on her boyfriend. The officers ended up taking them bothto the station for drug tests.

      “It was like a car being side-swiped by another car,” Shirley recalls.

      Shirley tested positive.

      She was sentenced to mandatory detention, in a new programme modelled after Daytop, a therapeutic treatment option founded in the United States.

      She was allowed to leave in 2003, after six months of detoxification, but she chose to stay on longer, doing volunteer work for several years. The whole process was a relief, she says.

      “I felt relaxed from the moment I was caught by the police,” Shirley says. There were no more drugs or boyfriends to be bothered with, she explains with a laugh. “I felt free.”

      ‘Re-education through labour’ 

      But not everyone who passes through China’s mandatory detention system has such a good experience.

      In 2012, the United Nations released a statement condemning compulsory drug detention worldwide. It said that detainees were denied their legal rights, and that they faced violence, forced labour and heightened health risks while in lock-up.

      The system has its share of supporters in China, notably Zunyou Wu of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. He wrote a rebuttal to the UN’s statement, saying that the UN focused too much on the individual rights of drug users.

      “Under some circumstances, the individual’s autonomy must be overridden for the sake of the community as a whole,” Wu wrote. He also attacked the science behind the report.


      RELATED – My mother’s battle with drug addiction in Pakistan 


      Yunnan-based activist Gao Qiang ended his last stint in detention in 2007, after spending more than a decade in and out of mandatory treatment. Like Shirley, he became addicted to heroin at a young age, 15, without understanding much about drugs.

      He was only a teenager in 1992 when he was first arrested and placed in a compulsory treatment centre.

      For three months, Gao says that he was locked in a room no bigger than 20 square metres, where he was left to fight his addiction cold turkey.

      “There was no so-called treatment at all. The only treatment was to lock you up every day,” Gao says.

      For three months, Gao says he was locked in a room no bigger than 20 square metres, where he was left to fight his addiction cold turkey.

      Multiple relapses forced Gao back into custody several times after that and he soon became intimately familiar with the two institutions China employs for drug treatment: compulsory detoxification centres and “re-education through labour” camps.

      Both systems required detainees to work, Gao says, but they were worse than any normal job. The hours were long, the workloads heavy. He also alleges that police would beat the inmates.

      Gao preferred the “re-education through labour” camps, a system created in the 1950s to hold a range of criminals, including political dissidents, often without trial. There, he farmed sugar cane and rice from 8am to 6pm.

      It was an easier schedule than that he faced at the rehab centres, where he says he worked from morning until midnight, with days off only for public holidays. His jobs included manufacturing shoes on an assembly line and making artificial diamonds for clothing.

      A bar in Beijing’s fashionable Sanlitun district displays a sign saying ‘No Drugs!’ [Allison Griner/Al Jazeera]

      The shrinking advocacy community
      .

      China abolished the system of “re-education through labour” camps in late 2013. But, human rights activists like Shen Tingting say “they just changed the [camps’] names”. Now they’re simply drug detox centres, too.

      Shen, the advocacy director for the NGO Asia Catalyst, does believe the treatment facilities are improving.

      The law now acknowledges that addicts should be seen as patients, rather than criminals, and China has built the world’s largest system of methadone therapy to wean users off drugs such as heroin.


      RELATED – The country with the world’s worst drink problem 


      That said, Shen still sees a number of flaws in the system. For instance, law enforcement officials often operate the detention facilities, rather than medical professionals. Shen is also emphatic about the need for more voluntary treatment alternatives, but for these to succeed, the mandatory detention system needs to ease up.

      “Basically, now, it’s arrest and detention. I think that’s made people really scared,” Shen says. “Even if you have voluntary treatment, in a system like that, people won’t show up.”

      It’s hard for her to be optimistic about change. A few years back, she remembers letter-writing campaigns and advocacy work being done on behalf of drug users. “Now it’s just silence. There’s just no voice at all,” she says. “I just think the [drug advocacy] community is getting smaller but not stronger.”

      Part of the dilemma lies with a lack of international engagement, Shen says. As the world’s second-largest economy, China no longer attracts as many donors for its social issues as it used to. And besides, international groups are increasingly met with suspicion. Just this April, China passed a law requiring foreign NGOs to submit to police supervision.

      Then there’s the issue of stigma. When it comes to drug users, many Chinese still hold staunchly conservative opinions, Shen says.

      Shirley’s family had trouble accepting her as an addict. While she stayed at the detention centre, an uncle from her mother’s side was the only family member to visit her.

      “Though my family loves me very much, they still think that I, as a drug addict, am a humiliation,” she says.

      Shen Tingting of the NGO Asia Catalyst says the drug advocacy community has grown smaller and weaker in recent years [Allison Griner/Al Jazeera]

      Fractured social credibility
      .

      “Humiliated” was exactly how Gao felt, even after he had finally become clean. Now, at 42, he still remembers his first trip from Yunnan to Beijing. He and a friend visited Tiananmen Square, then he retired to his hotel for a rest. A knock at his door interrupted his sleep.

      The police were there with handcuffs, ready to take him to the station for a random urine test, Gao says. He didn’t even have time to grab a shirt.

      In China, addicts are registered on a police database, unless they can prove that they have been clean for three years. Each time they use their ID cards, like at a hotel, the police are made aware of their whereabouts.

      “It was like a surveillance camera watching you 24/7, leaving you no privacy at all,” Gao says.


      RELATED – China’s Fake Boyfriends 


      He doesn’t deny that addicts need some level of supervision, but he finds the current system excessive.

      Gao dedicated himself to learning about Chinese law, to help other drug users overcome addiction and face down discrimination.

      You have no social credibility, which makes it almost impossible to make a living.

      Gao Qiang, Yunnan-based activist and former drug addict

      Many of his friends returned to drugs after confronting the difficulties of life as a registered addict. Their drug histories prevent them from landing jobs and even getting a driver’s licence.

      “You have no social credibility, which makes it almost impossible to make a living,” Gao says.

      It was a sense of social acceptance that drew Shirley to Narcotics Anonymous. She travelled all the way from Beijing to Shanghai for her first meeting, and left shocked. She had never been among people so tolerant of drug addicts. That’s when she and other NA attendees decided to hold their own meetings in Beijing.

      But it hasn’t always been easy to cope with her addiction since then, Shirley explains one afternoon at an Italian restaurant.

      She is now 38, with two young daughters to take care of.

      While she talks, her youngest, a blur of lavender tulle and strawberry hair charms, bounces around the restaurant booths. Her mischievous smile, flashed in a game of peekaboo, reveals two missing front teeth.

      Shirley was racked with postnatal depression after her daughter’s birth. But taking medication was out of the question. She had been clean since 2007 and didn’t want to risk a relapse.

      “Every night after my family fell asleep, there were different voices resonating around my ears,” Shirley says.

      One voice would remind her of her pain, and another would taunt her: “Just die. Everything will be fine after you are dead.”

      Returning to Narcotics Anonymous after her pregnancy helped Shirley to overcome those suicidal impulses, she says, but she knows it’s not for everyone.

      When it comes to offering treatments, “diversity is the word,” Shirley says. “With more methods, more people will be helped.”

      Follow Allison Griner on Twitter at @alligriner

      http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/05/china-opium-wars-battling-addiction-beijing-160516141819379.html

      *******************************

      Peace and Freedom Note: People that have no interest in human rights generally are unwilling and unable to successfully treat the addicted. Modern addiction treatment is fundamentally founded upon the worth of the human individual as a child of God. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) both teach that only a “higher power” can get someone who is addicted to become “cured.”

      This is why China has such a miserable record in drug and addiction treatment.

      It is sad to us at Peace and Freedom that the Philippines, with such a large Catholic population, has chosen to follow the path of “execution” instead of treatment. This morally reprehensible path will certainly lead to more as yet unimaginable trouble for the Philippines. Drug addicts are human beings and they can be cured.

      Every thinking person in the Philippines should feel ashamed at what is going on.

      Because each and every drug addict is a human being in need of help. And each and every one can be cured and returned to a productive life. Execution without any legal process is an undeserved fate that demeans us all.

      .

      I know, because I am a cured drug addict myself.

      John Francis Carey

      Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Faces 12 Years in Prison — Defended Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, Artist Ai Weiwei, Liu Hui Other Critics of Chinese Communist Party

      September 22, 2016

      Xia defended many high-profile politically sensitive cases

      .

      By Jun Mai
      South China Morning Post
      Thursday, September 22, 2016, 3:53 p.m.

      A prominent Chinese rights lawyer who defended high-profile politically sensitive cases has been sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for fraud, according to his lawyer.

      Xia Lin, 46, was found guilty of fraud involving 4.8 million yuan (HK$5.6 million) by the Beijing No 2 Intermediate Court on Thursday.

      Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and camera

       Policemen stand behind Lin Ru, the wife of civil rights lawyer Xia Lin, as she talks to media near the Beijing Number 2 People’s Intermediate Court after her husband was sentenced to 12 years in prison on fraud charges on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

      Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting

       Lin Ru, the wife of civil rights lawyer Xia Lin, is surrounded by police near the Beijing Number 2 People’s Intermediate Court on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

      Xia was taken away by police in the middle of a case while defending rights activist Guo Yushan in November 2014. He had also defended dissident artist Ai Weiwei, Sichuan earthquake rights activist Tan Zuoren, rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, and Deng Yujiao, a Hubei waitress who killed a government official in self-defence during a sexual assault in a case that made national headlines.

      It is unclear whether the charges against Xia had anything to do with the cases he defended, but the court verdict made no mention of any of the politically sensitive cases mentioned above.

      Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

       Ai Weiwei’s wife, Lu Qing right, heads to court with lawyers Xia Lin in 2011. AP photo

      It is not uncommon for authorities to use non-political charges against activists. Ai Weiwei, for instance, was detained for more than two months for suspected tax evasion in 2010. Liu Hui, the brother in-law of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in jail for fraud in 2013. Liu Hui’s case was dropped by prosecutors who cited insufficient evidence in 2012, but was picked up again months after Liu Xia gave interviews to oversea media.

      http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2021629/prominent-chinese-rights-lawyer-xia-lin-sentenced-12

      Is it Important to Discuss Human Rights?

      Related:

      File photo: Pu Zhiqiang (R) stands with dissident artist Ai Weiwei (L) in the Caochangdi district of Beijing, 20 July 2012

      Weiwei (left) detailed his torture inside a Chinese prison. At right is his lawyer Pu Zhiqiang who represented artist Ai Weiwei in a tax evasion case that critics complained was politically motivated. He also campaigned for the eventual  abolition of the labour camp system, under which suspects could be detained for years without trial. AFP photo

      Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

      Zhao Wei

      Zhao Wei was released by China on July 7, 2016