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Posts Tagged ‘international’

For those who missed it last month, this is one Romanian teenager’s astonishing and, in a strange way, deeply affecting tribute to the wonder of space exploration and the demise of the shuttle programme.

On 31st December, 2011, Oaida Raul, who has always been fascinated by space exploration (Bob and I know a thing or two about that), launched a Lego replica of the shuttle from a site near Lauda-Königshofen, in Germany. He had found support and backing on the Internet from a random businessman he had made contact with on Twitter and then Skype. They filmed the flight from a camera attached to the same helium balloon as the Lego craft and the HD film of it is simply awe-inspiring.

That combination of boyhood dreams, determination to celebrate the end of a space programme that saw both incredible discoveries and crushing tragedy, technology enabling two people whose world’s would ordinarily never collide to conspire in such a joyful endeavour is a reassuring testimony to humankind in what seem such cold, cruel times.

Read the story in his own words.

And click through to YouTube to watch the video in HD. It really is worth it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Elections are distracting affairs and somewhere along the line I missed the return to the internet of one of the most important resources for freedom of information campaigners of recent years: WikiLeaks.

Having survived the attempts of the US intelligence services to destroy its activities, WikiLeaks suspended itself at the beginning of the year in order to raise funds to ensure its staff could be paid and that a more robust framework for its vast quantities of information could be established.

Wikileaks has become a vital tool of the campaigning trade, especially when attempting to expose the sometimes questionable dealings of multinationals, governments and banks. For instance, WikiLeaks recently reported on the efforts of big pharmaceutical companies to spy on the World Health Organisation.

Take a look – and offer any support you can.

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Alkarama is increasingly alarmed at the state of health of Haitham al-Maleh and has issued the following appeal to the Syrian President:

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Universal jurisdiction is that principle of international law whereby states exercise criminal jurisdiction over individuals accused of committing crimes beyond the boundaries of the state taking action. Despite its origins in the Nuremberg Trials, universal jurisdiction is a controversial concept, as the trial of Augustus Pinochet demonstrated.

Realist critics such as Henry Kissinger are quick to talk up the limitations of universal jurisdiction. Reports such as this from Alkarama offer an important balance and, more importantly, guidance on the way in which universal jurisdiction works in different legal domains.

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To mark Syria’s National Day, 17th April, friends and supporters of Syria’s wrongly incarcerated prisoners of conscience protested outside the Syrian Embassy at 8 Belgrave Square, in London. Between 70 and 80 people were in attendance, many of them signing a letter to the President that was delivered via Embassy officials.

Simultaneous protests mounted in Berlin, Bern, Brussels, Canberra, London, Montreal, Paris, Stockholm and Washington.

There is always a danger that in the tumult of an election we forget about those who would wish to be doing exactly as we will be able to do on May 6th: vote for those we want to represent us.

Don’t forget our friends: Kamal al-Labwani, Anwar al-Bunni, Haitham al-Maleh and Muhannad al-Hassani amongst the many, many others. We must do what they cannot and speak up for their right to be heard.

Pictures from the demonstration are below.

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As Syria prepares to celebrate 64 years of independence, the European Union continues to work towards cementing relations with Syria through its EU-Syria Mediterranean Association Agreement. Maureen Thomas, however, has alerted me to a demonstration outside the Syrian Embassy to remind the world that despite its reformist rhetoric, peaceful and democratic reformers such as Kamal Labwani, Anwar Bunni, Haithem Maleh and Muhannad Hassani are still locked up on trumped-up charges in defiance of Syria’s commitments on civil and political rights.

In an email to Maureen, Iyas al-Maleh, son of imprisoned human rights champion Haitham al-Maleh, thanked her for mobilising support for the demonstration, to be held at 3pm on Saturday 17 April, 8 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PH. Similar demonstrations are already planned for Brussels and Washington, with work ongoing to organise similar protests in Berlin, Geneva and Paris.

If you are a friend and supporter of Kamal, and his fellow prisoners, please see if you are free and visit the sign-up page to register:

http://sites.google.com/site/syriademo/

News of the proposed demonstration comes at the same time as the UNHCR reports that the Syrian regime continues to harass its political internees. It makes for upsetting reading and you are left wondering at the strength of men who still find the courage to defy the authorities even in Adra prison, preferring to surrender their visiting rights instead of succumbing to the indignity of being forced to meet family in prison garb.

So please see if you are free on 17 April and make a standard for freedom of conscience and human rights.

And our friends.

Kamal in prison uniform

Kamal, in prison uniform

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Kamal Labwani’s family have written to Maureen Thomas, describing the latest humiliations in Adra Prison, Damascus. Maureen’s covering comment is a timely reminder of the human frailty of our friends who have been imprisoned in Damascus: “One can only admire the prisoners’ pride, determination and courage but I worry for Haytham, Muhannad, Anwar and Kamal who still have a long time to go with no money or medication to help keep them healthy.”

The letter from Kamal’s family speaks for itself:

“We are ok actually and our father but now we are not visiting him because he asked us not to.

Him and all the prisoners of conscious in Adra prison reject to be visited because the authorities want them to wear prison pajamas during the visit and not civilian clothes or even sports pajamas as they say they want them to be equal like other prisoners.

So the prisoners of conscience rise up claiming that they should be also equal to other prisoners in other rights like their visit is not being watched and have the right to visit for two hours rather than only half an hour and other fair requests.  They say if you want us to be equal let us be equal in every single right.   It is really not a matter of wearing prison pajamas or not, they want to be treated like other prisoners.   If the authority wants them to be equal with civil prisoners they wish to be really equal.

And so now we cannot visit him because if we go he will refuse to come out and see us. We cannot give him money and provide him with medication. Not just us but the other prisoners’ families.

I would not be accurate if I called what the prisoners of conscience are doing as a strike because I really don’t know if they will end it or keep doing this until their demands are accomplished.  We really don’t know what the circumstances will bring but until now it seems that they insist to go on.

I’m sorry for this long letter. We all hope the new days will bring good news.”

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