Wednesday, July 23, 2008


"Man torturing man is a fiend beyond description. You turn a corner in the dark and there he is. You congeal into a bundle of inanimate fear. You become the very soul of anesthesia. But there is no escaping him. It is your turn now..."
~ Henry Miller.

From the Pot-Calls-the-Kettle-Black Department:

Britain can no longer believe what Americans tell us about torture, an MPs' report to be published today claims. They also call for an immediate investigation into allegations that the UK government has itself 'outsourced' the torture of its own nationals to Pakistan.

In a damning criticism of US integrity, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said ministers should no longer take at face value statements from senior politicians, including George Bush, that America does not resort to torture in the light of the CIA admitting it used 'waterboarding'. The interrogation technique was unreservedly condemned by Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who said it amounted to torture.

The rest is at the Guardian. From the report itself:

52. There appears to be a striking inconsistency in the Government’s approach to this matter. As noted above, it has relied on assurances by the US Government that it does not use torture. However, it is evident that, in the case of water-boarding and perhaps other techniques, what the UK considers to be torture is viewed as a legal interrogation technique by the US administration. With the divergence in definitions, it is difficult to see how the UK can rely on US assurances that it does not torture. As Amnesty International argues, “what the USA considers torture does not match international law”. 86 Human Rights Watch adds that “President Bush’s statements on torture need to be considered in the light of the memoranda from his legal advisers that re-defined torture so narrowly as to make the prohibition virtually meaningless.”87

More on all of this is available on Glenn Greenwald's blog at Salon.

Gordon Taylor has a new item up about the German mountaineers who were released by PKK . . . from the German perspective:

Helmut Hainzlmeier, a 65-year-old Bavarian mountain-climber . . . , was one of three German tourists kidnapped from Mt. Ararat by a PKK platoon on July 8. He was released along with his companions on Monday July 21. They have now returned to Germany.

When the story first broke, Reuters Television did a report from Bavaria. Here is a partial transcription, which gives some background on Mr. Hainzlmeier, who evidently volunteered to be a hostage. Following that I have reprinted an interview with Helmut Hainzlmeier from the German magazine Stern, which I translated via Google and then cleaned up using a German dictionary. Thus I am responsible for any errors. The details are sparse but vivid: lava caves, a bear's den, and guerrillas who "knew very well where they wanted to go."

You can check the rest at Gordon's place. No doubt the Germans were relieved they had been guests of PKK and not of the American government.

There's a very good critique by Azadixwaz on a couple of articles by a Fethullahçı on his "solution" to the Kurdish situation. As far as I'm concerned, the analysis hits the mark:

So the Kurds have secured all of the economic resources in the shoe-shining, begging, car-parking sectors. That is what he talking about, I think, because I cannot think of any other sector that has Kurds, and by Kurds I mean real Kurds not the fake ones who have become Turks. If it was not for the Kurds, there would not be one person who would work in construction business without any benefits or whatsoever. So it is true that there are countless partnerships between Kurds and Turks, otherwise the Turks would not be able to find any servants for them. It is true that the Kurds enjoy equal status with Turks, as long as they deny their roots and say that they are Turks. True, a lot of Kurds in Syria do not have citizenship, but they live with their honor, living and passing down their culture to the younger generations proudly. And the Kurds in Syria can always proudly say they are Kurdish, and almost never hide their identity. You compare it!


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