Friday, May 10, 2013

  • Despite Evidence of Massacres, Former Guatemalan Dictator Proclaims Innocence at Genocide Trial

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    UPDATE: 7:00 p.m. EDT Efraín Ríos Montt has been found guilty of genocide and sentenced to 80 years in prison.

    A verdict is expected as early as today in the historic trial against U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, the first head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide. He is charged with overseeing the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala’s Mayan region after he seized power in 1982. On Thursday, Ríos Montt testified for the first time during the trial. "I declare myself innocent," Ríos Montt said. "I never had the intention or the purpose to destroy any national ethnic group." During the trial, nearly 100 prosecution witnesses described massacres, torture and rape committed by state forces. "If Ríos Montt is convicted, the next question becomes: What about [current Guatemalan President Otto] Pérez Molina, and what about the U.S. sponsors who were providing the weapons, the money, the bombs, the bullets and the political support for the crimes for which Ríos Montt may today be convicted of genocide?" asks investigative journalist Allan Nairn from Guatemala City. In the 1980s, Nairn broke many stories about massacres in Guatemala and the U.S. backing of the dictatorship.

  • With Father and Sister Imprisoned, Exiled Bahraini Activist Maryam Alkhawaja Condemns Ongoing Abuses

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    The Bahraini government continues its crackdown on opposition protesters, with demonstrations repressed and scores of dissidents held behind bars. We’re joined by Maryam Alkhawaja, a leading Bahraini human rights activist. Her family has been highly critical of the U.S.-backed monarchy, and they have paid a heavy price. Maryam’s father, human rights attorney Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, is serving a life sentence in prison. He has already spent two years in jail. Her sister, Zainab Alkhawaja, is also imprisoned. A close friend of the family, Nabeel Rajab, is also in jail. Rajab had been the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "There has hardly been any real accountability of the Bahraini government of the human rights violations that have been going on in Bahrain for more than two years now," says Alkhawaja, who is now the acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

  • Are the FBI and IRS Secretly Reading Your Email Without a Warrant?

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    The American Civil Liberties Union has obtained documents revealing that the FBI and IRS may be reading emails and other electronic communications of U.S. citizens without obtaining a warrant. This comes just as reports have emerged that the Obama administration is considering approving an overhaul of government surveillance of the Internet. The New York Times reported the new rules would make it easier to wiretap users of web services such as instant messaging. "The FBI wants to be able to intercept every kind of possible communication," says attorney Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. "The FBI basically wants to require all of these companies to rewrite their code in order to enable more government surveillance. … And in order to accomplish that, they would make the whole Internet less secure."

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