Sunday, 22 November 2015

Two Human Rights violations ignored by the left

In the West we take the right of free speech and expression for granted. Elsewhere such freedoms are non-existent or under threat. Two countries with the worst human rights records are Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Guardian reports:

A Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s nascent contemporary art scene has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam.

A Saudi court on Tuesday ordered the execution of Ashraf Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal against the ruling.

Fayadh, 35, a key member of the British-Saudi art organisation Edge of Arabia, was originally sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court in Abha, a city in the south-west of the ultraconservative kingdom, in May 2014.

But after his appeal was dismissed he was retried last month and a new panel of judges ruled that his repentance did not prevent his execution.

Meanwhile in Iran:

The journalist Solmaz Ikdar has been sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the state.” The charges were based on content she posted on her Facebook page.

The trial, presided over by Judge Moghisseh, took place on October 20, 2015, and Ikdar’s sentence was issued on November 10, 2015, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Ikdar, 33, has spent her journalism career writing for several reformist publications, including Shargh, Bahar, Farhikhtegan, and Mardom-e Emrooz.

Her sentencing takes place within the context of an intensified campaign by hardliners against journalists and reformists in Iran. During recent weeks, several Iranian journalists have been arrested by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization.

Authorities in Iran have also cracked down particularly hard on any dissenting opinion expressed on social media, a platform they have come to fear due to its widespread use among Iranian youth.

The journalist’s sentence reflects the broader campaign underway by hardliners in Iran to assert their dominance in the domestic sphere in the post-nuclear deal environment.

The left remain silent on these issues and accuse those of us that raise them of being Islamophobes or in more extreme cases "Zionist s*itheads "as happened to me me when I tried raising the Palestinian Ashraf Fayadh on a Labour Party Face Book forum at the weekend. My accuser didn't like highlighting "certain countries" because the "whole picture" needed to be seen. He then attacked Israel and declined from condemning the execution. Possibly and Islamist, certainly part of the "anti-imperialist" brigade that has come to pollute the "left". 

The need for a new progressive movement has never been greater. 

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