Monday 20 August 2018

In last interview, Auschwitz survivor urged Palestinians “not to give up their fight”

Hajo was born in 1924 and had to flee alone from Nazi Germany at the age of 14 because the Nazis would not allow him to attend school anymore. His parents sent him to the Netherlands in January 1939.
A year later, the Netherlands was occupied by Germany. In 1943, Hajo went into hiding but was captured by the Gestapo in March 1944 and deported to the Auschwitz death camp where the Nazis tattooed number “179679” on his arm.
After the war, Meyer returned to the Netherlands where he had a long career as a physicist. He also took up making violins in his retirement.
In a previous interview with The Electronic Intifada, Hajo said: “For as long as I can, I will continue to utter my criticism of inhuman Zionist behavior.”
On 29 July, I traveled to Meyer’s home in Heiloo in the Netherlands, to discuss the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, where the tired Hajo gave The Electronic Intifada his last interview.
I asked Hajo how he felt. “I can’t answer you positively, due to old age which prevents me from any activity in supporting the Palestinians,” he replied. “To be that old comes with such great loss of capacities, it is quite a task,” he said.
He reflected on how lucky he was to survive Auschwitz with some comrades.
 Reber Dosky, a Kurdish refugee residing in the Netherlands, made My Good Fortune in Auschwitz (2012), a short documentary about Hajo’s survival with his comrade Jos Slagter. In the documentary, Hajo plays one of the melancholic Yiddish tunes he used to test the sound of the violins he had made (watch it above — with English subtitles).
When I spoke to him, Hajo denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s accusations that the large demonstrations against Israel’s attacks on Gaza are an expression of an increasing hatred against Israel.
“If we want to stay really human beings, we must get up and call the Zionists what they are: Nazi criminals,” Meyer said. The hate of the Jews by the Germans “was less deeply rooted than the hate of the Palestinians by the Israeli Jews,” he observed. “The brainwashing of the Jewish Israeli populations is going on for over sixty years. They cannot see a Palestinian as a human being.”
While discussing Europe’s response to Israel’s policies, Hajo said that Europe should respond with “a much more large scale boycott of Israel” than a ban on settlement products. If we Europeans pretend to hold high the flag of humanity with what is happening in Gaza, Israel should be outcasted by us.”
I asked him if he had a message for the Palestinians, Israelis or human rights activists.
“My message for the Palestinians is that they should not give up their fight,” he replied. “If they give up, they might lose their self-esteem with the ongoing humiliations by the Israeli Nazis. Fight with human means. It is justified to show to the Israeli Zionists that you are a force to reckon with. Fight with stones, with weapons. Yes, also with weapons. If you don’t fight, you lose your self-esteem and will not be respected by the Israelis.”
“If we Western democratic societies don’t support the Palestinians in their fight, we must feel ashamed if the Palestinians are annihilated. The US and the European Union must show their teeth,” he added.
Hajo was one of more than forty survivors of the Nazi genocide who recently signed a letter condemning Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
In May, Hajo Meyer’s letters to his family written between July 1939 and 1945 were published in Germany.
Hajo Meyer, thank you for your humanity, your dignity, your love and your consistent support to defending human rights.

Friday 10 August 2018

Faisalabad struggles with scourge of ‘honour’ killings

 Over 175 men and women have been killed in various disputes across Faisalabad district during the first six months of 2018, Express News has learnt. Most cases involved murders in the name of ‘honour’.

Besides honour killing, victims were murdered over land and family disputes, communal enmity and everyday brawls. The dead included 66 women and 111 men, statistics from 41 police stations in Faisalabad confirmed.

At least 13 women and 12 men were killed in January, 11 women and 15 men in February, eight women and 20 men in March, 11 women and 19 men in April, 17 women and 24 men in May, and six women and 21 men in June.

An on-duty bus hostess Mahwish and MPA seat candidate Waqar Ahmed Wahla were among those whose lives were cut short in recent incidents. Most of the women were reportedly killed in the name of ‘honour’ by their brothers, fathers or husbands.

The police told Express News that suspects in most of the cases remained at large. However, they claimed that complete efforts were being made to arrest those involved in such incidents. Meanwhile, a special homicide unit had also been set up to probe cases of murder in Faisalabad.

In recent years, honour killing cases have surged to an alarming level in Punjab, especially Faisalabad. The crime continues unabated and laws introduced to curb this menace seem ineffective.

The police records revealed that in 2017, at least 44 people, including 18 women and 26 men, were killed under the garb of so-called ‘honour’ across Faisalabad district. However, in 2016, comparatively fewer cases of such a nature were reported as 31 people were murdered over ‘honour’.

Earlier, the Punjab Assembly passed a new bill against honour killing with an objective to provide legal protection to women. As part of the bill, all forms of violence against women have been criminalised while centres would be established across the province to remove hurdles which complicate a woman’s quest for justice.

Under the new law, relatives of the victims would only be able to pardon the killer if he is sentenced to capital punishment. However, the culprit would still face a mandatory life sentence of 12-and-a-half years.


Monday 6 August 2018

Ahed Tamimi: 'I am a freedom fighter. I will not be the victim'

The teenage Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi has said she used her eight months in prison as an opportunity to study international law and hopes to one day lead cases against Israel in international courts.

“God willing, I will manage to study law,” the 17-year-old from Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank told the Guardian a day after her . “I will present the violations against the Palestinians in criminal courts. And to try Israel for it and to be a big lawyer, and to return rights to my country.”

Tamimi, who rose to global prominence as a child living under military occupation, said she and other Palestinians in her all-female prison unit would sit for hours and learn legal texts. “We managed to transform the jail into a school,” she said.

To an outcry from rights groups, the teenager was arrested in December after  on camera outside her home. The soldiers had been deployed at one of Nabi Saleh’s weekly protests, where residents have thrown stones at troops who have responded with teargas, arrests and, at times, live ammunition.

She later accepted a deal in court to plead guilty to assault, incitement and two counts of obstructing soldiers.

 Palestinian 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi is the latest child victim of Israel’s occupation

“The experience of being arrested was really hard. As much as I try, I cannot describe it,” Ahed said. But she added: “This experience added value to my life, maybe it made me more mature. More conscious.”

Her trial was held behind closed doors. Concerns about her treatment in detention were raised after a video emerged in which a male Israeli interrogator threatened the then 16-year-old, commenting on her body and “eyes of an angel”.

Ahed said her treatment was not unusual. “It was not the first, and it was not a coincidence. This is their style of interrogating,” she said.

Her case has highlighted the arrest and detention of what local human rights groups say are more than 300 Palestinian minors.

Ahed said her experience in jail helped with her ambitions to become an international lawyer. “For example, I was under interrogation. There were violations against me. International law says that this should not happen to me,” she said, adding that in another life she would have trained to be a professional footballer.


Thursday 2 August 2018

Zahida: On the Road with Pakistan's First Female Taxi Driver

"It wouldn't work if I left the house thinking that I'm a woman. To compete with men, I had to be like a man."  - Zahida, Pakistan's first female taxi driver
In 1992, Zahida became Pakistan's first female taxi driver and a local legend.
Twice widowed, she is independent, feisty and street-wise, with a reputation for being a master hustler.
But now, aged 56 and with a seven-year-old daughter to raise, she is still fighting to make a living on the dusty roads of Rawalpindi.
"My life is one big struggle," she reflects.
"It's a sin to be a woman in Pakistan … It's easy for men. No matter how hard a woman works, they say this is a woman's earnings. Her work is not valued the same."
Witness follows Zahida as she juggles motherhood with life behind the wheel, ferries her customers around the city and tussles with male taxi drivers, discussing the roles and rights of women as well as competing for custom.
In quiet moments off the road, she recites nostalgic poetry and reflects on her fate.
"We make our own destinies," she says. "If I had sat at home, I would've had no future. I worked hard to get this far."


Wednesday 1 August 2018

Ilford 'Snapchat queen' guilty of manslaughter of her boyfriend

A “Snapchat queen” who posted a video of her boyfriend dying in a pool of blood has been found guilty of orchestrating his killing.
Fatima Khan, 20, plotted with a love rival to kill Afghan asylum seeker Khalid Safi, 18, whom she had been seeing for two years.
Safi was repeatedly stabbed in the chest by Raza Khan in North Acton, west London, on the evening of 1 December 2016, jurors were told.
Fatima Khan filmed him as he lay dying in the street and posted it on Snapchat with the caption: “This is what happens when you fuck with me.”
The self-confessed Snapchat addict denied murder and alternative counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm, saying she was ashamed of the video.
But a jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for 18 hours and eight minutes to find her guilty of manslaughter by a majority of 10-1 on Tuesday.
During the trial, jurors were shown the disturbing footage as well as CCTV images of the fatal confrontation between Safi and 19-year-old Raza Khan.
Prosecutor Kate Bex QC said the two men had fought over Fatima Khan a few years earlier, at which time Safi had been injured. And in the runup to the killing, Fatima Khan had been in daily contact with Raza Khan via Snapchat, jurors heard. She became upset when Safi bought her a watch and presented it to her at her home five days before his death, jurors heard.