Daily Archives: December 1, 2011

Europe: Please Save My Son from the Death Penalty in Belarus

www.change.org

Petition created by: Liubou Kavalyova (Vitebsk, Belarus)
Petitioning: High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Catherine Ashton)

On November 30th the Supreme Court of Belarus sentenced my son Uladzislau Kavalyou (Vladislav Kovalev) and another young man Dzmitry Kanavalau (Dmitry Konovalov) to death.

Kanavalau was convicted of organizing the terrorist attacks in 2005 in Vitebsk, in 2008 in Minsk, and in the subway of Minsk in April 2011. My son Uladzislau was convicted of aiding him.

The accusations are based on the statements made by these two young men, which, as many believe, were given under physical and emotional duress. None of what has been said in court is supported by any evidence. My son insists he was not involved in the terrorist attacks and suggested Dzmitry Kanavalau had no relation to them, either.

I believe that my son is innocent.
So do victims of the attack and many international human rights organizations:

– The victims of the attack have a number of questions regarding the impartiality and transparency of the trial and access to the case materials. Aliaksandr Kruty, a representative of one of the injured from the April attack, Inesa Krutaya, made a motion to abolish the death penalty and asked the court to defer consideration of the case. A few days later – on September 20th – he was arrested and sent to a mental hospital allegedly for hooliganism. None of their motions were considered by the court.

– The defendants claimed that they were exposed to torture during the investigation to extract confessions.

– During the trial, independent journalists were banned from communicating with victims. The official media already referred to Kavalyou and Kanavalau as terrorists without awaiting the decision of the court.

With this petition, I am turning to you asking one single thing: I am asking you to not let them kill my son Uladzislau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau, but instead to find those who are actually responsible for these terrorist crimes.

At the moment Belarus is the only country in Europe which continues to carry out death sentences. And while these two men await execution, those who are responsible for the attacks walk freely.

Reports and Statements of Human Rights Groups:

Human Rights House: Human rights defenders concerned over trial against terrorism suspects in Belarus

Belarus Human Rights Group “Viasna”: Stop murder – in the name of the people!

Amnesty International: Belarus continues to execute people despite the international pressure, date and time of executions are not made public to the families, bodies never returned.

Sign the petition here.

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International Business Times
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Belarus Court Sentences Minsk Metro Bombers to Death by Pistol
By Elisha Maldonado

Two men found guilty of setting off a bomb in a Minsk subway station in April, killing 15 people and wounding hundreds, were handed down a death sentence in a Belarus court Wednesday.

Judge Aleksandr Fyodortsov said the defendants, childhood friends Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov, both 25, “pose an exceptional danger to society and an exceptional penalty should be applied to them.”

Belarus is the only country in Europe where a death penalty remains legal —  it is also the last remaining dictatorship in Europe.  The court ignored complaints from relatives and human rights activists who allege the two factory workers had been framed.

“The court has established that Konovalov carried out an act of terrorism,” Fyodortsov said. “The motives involved an attempt to destabilize the situation and scare people. The court sentences them to the extreme measure of punishment, death by execution.”

Unless the country’s neo-Soviet president, Alexander Lukashenko grants them a pardon — something he has done only once in 16 years — the pair will soon be blindfolded, forced to their knees and executed with a single bullet to the back of their necks in a process that takes less than two minutes, The Daily Telegraph newspaper of Britain reported.

Konovalov and Kovalyov, caged in the courtroom, showed no emotion when the sentence was passed, while others in the courtroom did it for them, booing and yelling that the trial had been a disgrace.

“We have serious concerns that both Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov were ill-treated in order to force them to confess and that this trial does not stand up to international scrutiny,” said John Dalhusien, Amensty International’s Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director.

“Belarus has a flawed justice system and routinely flouts international fair-trial standards, increasing the risk of a miscarriage of justice and of executing an innocent person.”

Since the two were tried by the Supreme Court, the accused have no right of appeal.

Both men were arrested three days after the explosion on a packed platform during the evening rush-hour on April 11, Reuters reported. Konovalov initially admitted to carrying out the attack, but then refused to make a statement or testify in his own defense. Kovalyov recanted his initial confession, saying it was made under duress when he heard his friend being beaten during interrogation.

According to Amnesty, there are reports than an ambulance was called during Konovalov’s interrogation. Furthermore, Amnesty reported, no forensic evidence linking either man to the explosion was found, nor were there any traces of explosives found on their person.

The bombing followed a brutal government crackdown on the opposition and came as the country slipped even further into an economic crisis.

Kovalyov’s mother, Lyubov, who has led a campaign to save the two men, said before the sentence was passed that any confessions had been made under duress.

“The accusations are based on statements made by my son and Dmitry, which were given under physical and moral pressure in the preliminary investigation,” she said in a statement. “My son denied these statements in court. No other evidence of guilt was offered. While they try to persuade the people that my son and his friend should be shot, the real criminals are going free.”

Human rights groups claim around 400 people have been executed in Belarus since the 1991 Soviet collapse.

“The death penalty is irrevocable and we oppose its use in all cases. President Lukashenko should immediately declare a moratorium on the death penalty and join the growing ranks of countries that have abandoned this barbaric punishment,” Dalhuisen said.

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Belarus remains the only country in Europe and the former Soviet Union which still carries out executions.”

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www.charter97.org

SENTENCED TO DEATH (Video)
November 30, 2011

SENTENCED TO DEATH (Video)

The Supreme Court of Belarus has pronounced the verdict in the Minsk metro bombing case.

The court sentenced the two accused of a terrorist attack in the Minsk metro to capital punishment.

Judge Alyaksndr Fedartsou, who conducted the trial, said the court was becoming more and more convinced while examining the materials of the case that “Dzmitry Kanavalau (the perpetrator) and Uladzislau Kavalyou (the accomplice) are extremely dangerous for the society and deserve capital punishment”.

The Supreme Court of Belarus came to a conclusion that Dzmitry Kanavalau committed a terrorist attack in Minsk on April 11, 2010. Kavalyou is reported to have helped Kanavalau to carry an explosive device in a flat and helped Kanavalau with the bomb.

Kanavalau was found guilty of taking the bomb to the metro and exploding it. While reading out the court decision, the Judge Alyaksandr Fedartsou mentioned names of 15 people killed and 200 people injured by the blast.

Kanavalau was also found guilty of explosion on the Independence Day in July 2008. Kavalyou was found guilty of not informing about the crime.

Kanavalau was also found guilty of making blasts in Vitsebsk on 14 and 22 September 2005 under article “terrorism”.

The fact that Kanavalau did not mention TNT as a component of the explosive device “does not leave doubts it was he who made the explosives and proves his unwillingness to inform investigation about the sources he got explosives from.

The court dropped charges from Kavalyou with failure to inform about preparing a terrorist attack of September 14 2005 due to lack of evidence.

The court found Kanavalau guilty of making two explosions in common lobbies of block of flats in Vitsebsk, an explosion on the façade of the library, setting tripwires and blasts near Hryhsany station, arson of a car. The court declared him not guilty of an attempted arson of a newspaper stall in 2004 “due to absence of proof”. The court said it was not proven that Kanavalau had been making explosive devices in that period of time.

Kavalyou pleaded not guilty during the trial claiming his evidence during investigation had been given under pressure.

Kanavalau refused to answer questions in court, but pleaded guilty to blasts in July 2008 in Minsk and April 2011 in the Minsk metro, but pleaded not guilty to the counts of blasts in Vitsebsk in 2005.

Lawyers for the defence said the investigation did not have convincing proofs of the guilt of Kanavalau and Kavalyou.

Some people injured by the blast said during the trial they had doubts if guilt of the defendants was proven.

After the state prosecution demanded death penalty for the accused, Belarusian human rights activists raised their voices against death sentence.

“One cannot ignore the fact that, according to reports by lawyers for the defence, human rights activists, certain victims and ordinary citizens, the investigation into the Minsk metro explosion, as well as the entire trial of Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavalyou, failed to be professional and convincing,” a joint statement of a number of human rights organizations says. “We believe that, provided that the investigation has established Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavalyou’s direct involvement in the metro explosion, the lives of the persons possessing valuable information on the circumstances of the tragedy should be saved for the sake of public security. Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavalyou’s lives should be saved because further data on the 11 April terrorist act may appear,” the statement reads.

The authors of the statement underline: “It is not the execution of the criminals that should be viewed as the crucial aftermath of the case, but the society’s confidence in the establishment of every motive, circumstance and persons involved.”

The decision of the Supreme Court on the case is final, without appeal. Under the law, a petition for mercy can be considered by the president of the country.

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RadioLabour: Nestlé’s mistreatment of workers in Pakistan and Indonesia

A RadioLabour special report:
Nestlé’s dismal treatment of workers in developing countries
Part 1: Pakistan

Nestlé is the world’s largest food and nutrition company. It operates in 86 countries and employs some 280,000 workers. It is forced by strong unions to correctly treat workers in Europe where it is headquartered. But it’s a different story in developing countries where unions are weaker, unemployment is higher, poverty is rampant  and governments more corrupt. As one of its strategies Nestlé deliberately keeps many of its workers in lowly paid day-to-day jobs in order to keep wages down and unions out. I talked to Peter Rossman about Nestlé’s operations in two developing countries: Pakistan and Indonesia. Mr Rossman is the communications director for the International Union of Foodworkers. In this first of a two part series I asked Mr Rossman about the situation for Nestlé workers in Pakistan.

Listen to the interview here.

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cms.iuf.org

Nespressure returns with mass dismissal of union members in Indonesia/provocation and attacks on union leader in Pakistan

24-10-2011

Management pressure on workers and their unions continues at Nestlé, the world’s largest food company

Click here to send a message to Nestlé!

Management at the Nescafé factory in Panjang has fired 53 of the 87 members of our affiliate SBNIP (technically they were handed “resignation letters”!) after the union took industrial action in support of their collective bargaining demands. The strike was the predictable result of five years of deep frustration.

On March 31 this year, SBNIP and local Nestlé management signed an agreement (initialed by the IUF and Nestlé corporate management on March 28) which finally opened the way for the union to bargain the Panjang workers’ collective agreement, including the wage bargaining which Nestlé management had been steadfastly rejecting for years.

Negotiations were difficult, and eventually deadlocked when the union called into question the enormously unequal spread in proposed wages within the many individual job categories, a spread which in the union’s view failed to comply with government regulations. With negotiations at an impasse, the union filed notification to strike in accordance with the legal requirements, and the SBNIP members – representing the majority of unionized workers at the factory – ceased to work on September 21, and peacefully occupied the plant to ensure that no product would be leaving the factory.

The company responded by denouncing the strike as illegal and ordering people back to work. During the strike workers received phone calls and two letters – letters from the company that Nestlé now claims were legal summons.

As tensions escalated, workers left the factory premises on September 26, briefly occupied the football field (inside the factory grounds), and then left the factory as a sign of good faith for the negotiations scheduled for the following day.

The next day, however, with the union announcing a return to work pending the outcome of the negotiation, Nestlé management failed to turn up for the scheduled meeting.

Following this provocative rebuff, the strike resumed on September 28, and the union filed for an eventual extension of industrial action should it be necessary.

The strike attracted sufficient attention in the media that a delegation from the provincial parliament came to Panjang on October 3 and asked to meet with the union members inside the factory. Nestlé management rejected this request.

On the morning of October 5, the local Labour Department called SBNIP and Nestlé management to mediation but management sent only junior company representatives who were not authorized to take any decisions in the mediation process. The union had looked to the mediation as an opportunity to make the case that it could not sign an agreement whose provisions were incompatible with government recommendations, and therefore potentially illegal. In this mediation the union agreed to end the strike at 1PM the same day and a memorandum prepared and witnessed by the Labour Department was signed by the union president, Eko Sumaryono and the Nestlé management representative.  Significantly the reference in this document to the strike of September 21-October 5 does not make any reference to the strike being “illegal”.

The strike ended at 1PM in accordance with the agreement and in two telephone calls between the union and Nestlé management at 6:27PM and 7:52PM, it was agreed to meet the next morning, October 6, to discuss finally signing the collective agreement. But from 10PM on October 5 Nestlé management launched the mass dismissal of union members.

When the strike ended as agreed on October 5, union members on the second shift reported for duty at 2PM and, although management did no re-start the machines, they completed their shift. But when union members arrived for the third shift at 10PM they were faced by a cordon of security guards at the factory gates, with riot police on standby inside the factory grounds. Security guards called out the names of union members, handed them “resignation” letters one by one and then sent them away. The same letters were also sent to their homes. Dozens of termination letters were issued on October 6.

This ruthless reaction by Nestlé came after the conflict was resolved under the auspices of the Labour Department and the strike was already over in accordance with the official memorandum that the company and union signed. More incredibly, even after the union agreed to sign the collective agreement, Nestlé management still continued its mass termination. This extreme bad faith on the part of the company reveals the company’s determination to crush the union regardless of the conflict being resolved. This was not about the strike – it was the culmination of five years of attempts by Nestlé Panjang management to destroy a union that dared exercise its collective bargaining rights (see What Nestlé will not want you to know: the truth about the Panjang strike).

To demonstrate their refusal to accept this mass forced “resignation” and to express their determination to be reinstated, the unfairly dismissed union members collected the severance pay that was automatically transferred to their bank accounts on  October 5 and attempted to return it to the company. On October 7, when union and management representatives were called to a meeting by the local parliamentary commission, union representatives handed over the severance money. Nestlé management – left speechless by this – refused to take it and left.

Union delegates at the IUF-A/P Regional Conference (Bali, Indonesia October 18-20, 2011) carried an emergency resolution on trade union rights violations at Nestle Panjang (Indonesia) and Nestle Kabirwala (Pakistan).  Picture shows delegates protesting against Nespressure inflicting  mass dismissals at Panjang and false criminal charges against union leader in Pakistan.

The Panjang strike was an understandable response to years of struggle for the right to form an independent union and engage in meaningful collective bargaining with one of the most powerful corporations in the world. The company’s local management has deliberately stoked accumulated frustration, engineering a series of events which it is attempting to exploit in order to undermine years of struggle in a country where workers are still denied their fundamental rights.

Nespressure stalks Pakistan

No sooner had Nestlé expanded its plant in Kabirwala, Pakistan in 2007 to become the company’s largest milk reception factory in the world, than management set about trying to undermine the union and attacking its energetic and effective president, Mohammad Hussein Bhatti, who was suspended in June 2007 for resisting management interference in union elections (see Pakistan: Management interferes in union elections, dismisses elected union president and violates court orders). Nestlé was forced to back down and Bhatti was reinstated.

But pressure on the union continued and has again come to a head, stimulated by the union’s decision to open its membership to the numerous contract workers at the plant and to assist 250 contract workers to become permanent employees – in accordance with the law – by filing legal cases at the Labour Court. Bhatti and the IUF-affiliated National Federation of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Workers gave important support to the Casual-T struggle at the Unilever Lipton tea factory in nearby Khanewal – and it would appear that Nestlé’s local management has determined to resist similar demands for an end to abuses of precarious employment arrangements.

While the court has issued ‘stay orders’ enjoining management from changing the contract workers’ status until the cases are decided, management has terminated many workers’ contracts and organized a calculated provocation by inviting new contract workers for a factory ‘visit’ – creating the impression that they will replace those fighting for permanent positions after years of precarious employment.

Rather than meeting the union’s demand to negotiate the employment status of precarious workers at this ‘world class’ facility, management has tried to mobilize local opinion against the union and its president and fomented a series of incidents and provocations involving false criminal charges (subsequently thrown out by the court) and inciting extremist religious organizations to attack the union. On October 10, union president Bhatti was stopped by security at the factory entrance and informed that he was suspended for four days, then repeatedly suspended for four-day periods since.

Stop Nespressure!

Tell Nestlé management in Vevey that local Panjang management must unconditionally reinstate the fired SBNIP members and enter into good faith negotiations which have been delayed too long! Pakistan management must rescind the suspension of union president Bhatti, stop provoking, intimidating and dismissing union members and officers and enter into good faith negotiations with the Kabirwala union.

Click here to send a message to Nestlé!

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Jeff Monson: The Russia Trip

Jeff Monson — The Russia Trip

November 28, 2010

Well guys I had a very frustrating fight as you know. Trained really hard on getting in on the inside but didn’t carry out the game plan at all for some reason. So basically we ended up having a kickboxing match. That didn’t turn out so good…lol.

Ended up breaking my leg in the second round from the one kick I checked in the match. After the fight I had a choice of two hospitals. One for everyday folks and one for visitors and government officials. I picked the local everyday folk hospital as I was told it was closer to the arena. I’m obviously not a big fan of the medical industrial complex in the US as it is profit driven however, the experience at this hospital did make me appreciate the comfort of health care in this country. Upon arrival there were ER staff smoking in the lobby. The hallways were full of wandering patients that looked like they were just out of a civil war battle. I had to fight with one of the doctors to avoid having my skull x-rayed. Eventually I got an x-ray for my leg which showed it was broken (something I already knew) and had it casted. I got 16 stitches on the inside and outside of my lip with a material that could of passed for chicken wire. It was so sharp it was making my gums bleed so I took them out myself. Saying that, the doctors were very kind and despite the inadequate medical equipment/supplies they knew what they were doing.

The most difficult part to be honest was trying to make it back to the US on crutches and in a cast. On crutches now but out of the cast, so that’s good.

Before the fight I did three seminars which went very well. I had between 75-85 people at each one. The students were very enthusiastic and had a higher skill level than what I thought. I got to train with the students at the end of the seminars and everyone was very determined and respectful. Participation in sport is taken very seriously. The seminar for the anarchist[s] on Saturday was fantastic. I met a lot of very cool people. Disappointed I didn’t have more time there. Very much looking forward to going back in the Spring to Moscow and St Petersburg.

There’s a big rumor reported by the media that I beat up two police officers to help a homeless man. The truth is a homeless man was being assaulted by police in the subway. I grabbed his hand and pulled him up and walked with him for a bit but I never talked to or touched the officers. I’ve gotten a lot of support and I really appreciate it. I know the fight didn’t go as I planned and that hurts more than the body.

20111128-114522.jpgGoing to train hard to win the next fight. As a last note, Fedor is a class act and actually came into the locker room after the fight to check on me and felt bad I injured my leg. As far as Putin and the booing at the end of the fight, well that’s another story at some other time…………

 Via Antifa.Ru

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“Without Limits”: “Anti-Putin” Installation Censored at Petersburg Contemporary Art Forum

In the contemporary cultural landscape panorama [sic], when conventional forms and aspects of art coexist with completely new art practices, the priorities get diametrically split [sic] and often impervious to each other [sic]. Meanwhile, we affirm the possibility to [sic] work out mutually acceptable and clear criteria in the evaluation of both a [sic] whole process and individual events in arts [sic].

Art & Reality Annual International Forum, “About the Forum”

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www.openspace.ru
Exhibition “Without Limits” Had Its Limits
November 30, 2011

“The Stars Speak,” an interactive installation by artist Vasily Klenov presented at the exhibition “Without Limits” as part of the parallel program of the first Art & Reality Annual International Forum, was censored on November 26 and removed from the exhibition hall along with its creator after Klenov refused to remove from the installation words insulting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that a visitor had typed in.

As stated on its official site, the Art & Reality Forum was organized by the Petr Konchalovsky Foundation “to discuss the burning issues in the world of fine arts, its imaginative ideas, practices, institutions, social functioning patterns, experiments, including the most radical ones.”

The forum, which took place in the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library November 25–27, was attended by Russian and foreign artists, critics, art historians, experts, gallerists, and patrons. Its theme was contemporary art criticism.

The first exhibition of the “Without Limits” project took place as part of the forum. It featured pieces by young artists and students working in a wide variety of genres and tendencies. According to organizers, the experimental convergence of different formats within a single art space would help address the forum’s major objectives — to comprehend the state of contemporary visual art and analyze the potential of modern technologies for the presentation of different kinds of creativity.

The exhibition included “The Stars Speak,” an interactive installation by Vasily Klenov, a student at the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia. The installation contained images of Russian stars — Maxim Galkin, Filipp Kirkorov, Andrei Makarevich, and Andrei Malakhov — alongside a display panel in the shape of comic-strip speech balloons. Visitors could type a message in these balloons using a special keyboard.

After one visitor typed in the phrase, “Putin must be castrated, just as he castrated democracy,” exhibition organizers demanded that the message defaming the prime minister be deleted. However, Vasily Klenov refused, explaining that, first, it was technically impossible, and second, that the idea of the installation had been precisely to give viewers the opportunity to freely express their thoughts.

The artist and his work were then quickly expelled from the exhibition.

Forum organizers did their best to hush up the scandal. When one of the artists participating in the exhibition, Sofia Gavrilova, tried to publicly announce what had happened, her microphone was turned off, and the live broadcast of the proceedings was preempted by a splash screen featuring the forum’s logo. Organizers explained all this as the result of technical difficulties and continued the forum.

Source: Fontanka.Ru
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Art & Reality Annual International Forum Advisory Board: Alexander Zhukov, Vice Prime Minister of Russia; Alexander Avdeev, Minister of Culture of Russia; Vladimir Kozhin, Head of the Presidential Property Management Department; Andrei Konchalovsky, Chairman of Council of Petr Konchalovsky Foundation; Nikita Mikhalkov, Со-Founder of Petr Konchalovsky Foundation; Alexey Miller, Chairman of Council of ОАО Gazprom.

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