Archive for July, 2012

URGENT APPEAL:
The Jordanian authorities have handed over the activist Omar Aharir into the hands of the Syrian regime, more precisely, back to the secret services, despite the well-known fact that he has been a wanted man for his activities in favour of freedom and that, for this reason, he will be sentenced to death in Syria. Amman will hand over to the regime another 11 activists.

We are spreading this news as widely as possible so that this shameful action by the Jordanian authorities is stopped, aware as they are, of condemning these young people to certain death, people whose only crime has been that they have asked for the end of the dictatorship. The Jordanian authorities have been contacted and begged to not proceed in this act, but they have not listened. It’s not enough to undergo the abuse of the Syrian regime, now other States are chasing down and handing over for execution those who are demanding freedom for their people?

http://myfreesyria.com/2012/07/21/404/

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Welcome Ramadan, Get Lost Bashar

WRITTEN BY ASMAE SIRIA DACHAN, translated by Mary Rizzo

20 July 2012, 1 Ramadan 1433. Today is the beginning, for millions of Muslims the world over, of the month of Ramadan, considered by the faithful as a moment of sincere devotion, of purification and of prayer and it is for this reason welcomed with great celebration. It is one of the acts of faith that creates the greatest amount of gathering together, with families who reunite, sharing their meals at sunset even in the places of worship. Visits to the sick, as well as to friends and relatives increase in this period precisely to reinforce the connections between people and to mend any possible fractures that may have occurred.

Ramadan has a social meaning, as well as the religious one, so much so that it is felt even among persons who are generally less observant, because it expresses that sense of sacrifice, surrender, purification and rebirth that gives one hope. It is a light that shines at the end of the tunnel… even when the tunnel is long and it takes months and months to get to the other side of it. Just like the tunnel from which we see emerging, with great human sacrifices and an unmatchable commitment, the Syrian people, who find themselves welcoming Ramadan, for the second consecutive year, under the bombardment of the regime. The picture above refers to last year: Sawret al karamah, the “Revolt of Dignity”, had been started at that time already for four months by a group of young protesters, who wrote in candles: “Welcome Ramadan, Get out Bashar”. Perhaps no one could have predicted such a lengthy repression, which has already exceeded sixteen months, causing more than 19 thousand victims, among them, at least 1,400 children. The most recent veto of China and Russia has left the Syrian people feeling indifferent, who by now know that the International Community will not give them any real support, the contrary is true: the halting character of the world only reinforces the murderous folly of the regime, which has made its offensive even more brutal, and one once again we are hearing talk of the use of chemical weapons.

I say “once again” because it has already been months that the doctors of Baba Amr, the long-suffering neighbourhood of the old city of Homs, have denounced the use of white phosphorus, documenting irreversible damage provoked by its use.

Even the “Neighbours”, the Arab nations that are considered as “Sisters”, are enacting a policy of indifference regarding the humanitarian tragedy that is striking the civilians, even going so far as rejecting the entrance of refugees, pushing them back and treating them inhumanely, as the humanitarian associations have been stating.

It is such a sad Ramadan, the one that is beginning, which only this Thursday, on the first night of the vigil, has been grieving the deaths of over 280 persons killed, slaughtered in various locations in the suburbs of Damascus and in the Homs Province. Many Syrians who live abroad, even here in Italy, were used to spending Ramadan with their loved ones, returning to Syria or perhaps inviting their parents or grandparents to come here. Today the repression prohibits Syrians from living that very “normality”, forcing them into atrocious suffering, wounded by the loss of relatives, friends and acquaintances, for the destruction of homes, entire neighbourhoods and yes… entire cities… and especially for the wounds caused by the indifference of the world. It might sound like a paradox, but giving strength to those Syrians outside the homeland, telling them to not give up, to smile and to trust God with even greater force, as well as to have more belief in themselves, are actually those Syrians who are living under the repression, who yesterday by means of internet found a way to give the world their greetings for Ramadan, expressing the prayer that the Ramadan of 2013-1434 will be a different Ramadan, in which the Syrians will be rebuilding everything that the regime has destroyed, finally finding the longed-for peace and freedom.

original in Italian on My Free Syria

Doctor SAHRAN SHALOUB, a Syrian Druse, born in Qraya, town in the Swaida district of Syria in 1964, graduate of the University of Damascus, in service at the hospital of his native town, where he resides, married and with a 17-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son, was arrested on Sunday, 8 July 2012 in Qraya, (Swaida), taken from his home by men wearing the Syrian Army’s uniform, who did not identify themselves nor did they present any motivation for his arrest.

In the city of Swaida, during the night of Friday 6 July, a car exploded with two of its occupants, one of them, SAFUAN SHEKER, was already being sought out and his father had been arrested 30 days earlier. According to the official version, the two men were preparing a bomb for a terrorist attack, while the citizens of the city are convinced that the car had been struck by a missile or that a bomb had been placed within it and the passengers of the car entered without being aware of the explosives. There were no eyewitnesses at the moment of the explosion.

During the funeral procession, held on Saturday at Qraya, where the two men lived, the participants of the funeral had begun a protest in which hundreds of citizens participated and in which they had chanted slogans against the regime.

Together with Dr. Shaloub, other men arrested were: KARAM SHEKER, YUSSEF AL BALUSS and KAMAL RAED. A fifth man that was being sought out by the authorities in the course of the same operation, BASEL MFAREGE, was not found and is still being sought.

Dr. Shaloub’s father was a member of the Parliament until the year of his death in 1980.

Neither Dr. Shaloub, nor any of the other three men who were arrested have been involved in acts of violence and their arrest is to be attributed to their participation in the peaceful protest march that took place alongside the funerals of Safuan Sheker and his friend.

No information was however given regarding charges against them, nor was the place of their detention given. It is important to mention that Saturday’s protest was the first one held since the start of the revolts in the city of Qraya Swaida, which is an area inhabited principally by Druse.

Il Dr SAHRAN SHALOUB, di etnia drusa, nato a Qraya, località nel distretto di Swaida (Siria) nel 1964, laureato all’Università di Damasco, in servizio presso l’ospedale della sua città natale, dove risiede, sposato, con una figlia di 17 anni e un bambino di 9, è stato arrestato domenica 8 luglio 2012 nella città di Qraya, distretto di Swaida, prelevato  nella sua abitazione da uomini con l’uniforme dell’esercito, che non si sono qualificati, né hanno fornito alcuna motivazione per il suo arresto.

Nella città di  Swaida, nella notte tra venerdì 6 e sabato 7 luglio, un’auto è saltata in aria con i suoi due occupanti, uno dei quali, SAFUAN SHEKER, era già ricercato e suo padre era stato arrestato 30 giorni prima. Secondo la versione ufficiale, i due stavano preparando una bomba per un attentato, mentre i concittadini ritengono che l’auto sua stata colpita da un razzo o era stato posto, al suo interno, un ordigno all’insaputa degli occupanti. Al momento dell’esplosione non c’erano testimoni.

Durante la cerimonia funebre, tenutasi nella giornata di sabato a Qraya, dove i due risiedevano, i partecipanti alle esequie, hanno inscenato una manifestazione a cui hanno partecipato centinaia di cittadini che hanno cantato slogan contro il regime.

Insieme al Dr Shaloub, sono stati arrestati: KARAM SHEKER, YUSSEF AL BALUSS E KAMAL RAED. Un quinto ricercato, nel corso della stessa operazione, BASEL MFAREGE, non è stato trovato ed è ancora ricercato.

Il padre del Dr Shaloub è stato parlamentare fino all’anno della sua morte nel 1980.

Né il Dr Shaloub, né alcuno degli altri tre arrestati si sono resi responsabili di atti di violenza e il loro arresto è da attribuirsi alla partecipazione alla pacifica manifestazione di protesta originatasi in occasione dei funerali di Safuan Sheker e del suo amico.

Non sono state fornite comunque informazioni né sui capi di imputazione di cui sono accusati, né del luogo della detenzione. Si aggiunge che la manifestazione di Sabato è stata la prima tenutesi nella città di Qraya Swaida, in una zona abitata principalmente da drusi, dall’inizio della rivolta.

Beware the Gatekeepers! They want to control all discourse, especially since open discourse might reveal the facts and the ugly truth!

WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA BASEOS

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I left the below comment under this piece (http://www.salem-ews.com/articles/july102012/rizzo-lies-sd.php).

QUOTE
Christina Baseos July 11, 2012 7:01 am (Pacific time)

Mr. Davis, In regards to the few paragraphs mentioning my name and making reference to the R2H’s convoy and the shipping incident that took place in Libya, please note that I can prove your claims false. In light of this, the admins of this page are kindly requested to advise how I can upload a couple of pictures in the comments section. If uploading pics is not possible, please let me know and I will give you the link to an external page where you can redirect yourselves in order to see them. Thank you.
UNQUOTE

Given that I haven’t received an answer from SN’s admins, I post here my response to Mr. Davis, who, given that he’s a a ‘fan’ of this blog, will read it.
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Mr. Davis,

First of all, let’s make clear that we do not know each other. We have never met and none of us have the slightest idea on each other’s existence. Just as I know nothing about you, you know nothing about me as well. For the purposes of this comment and just for the sake of good order, please note that I’m a shipping professional (and not a lawyer as falsely claimed by Ms. Merton in one of the below pictures). Moreover, please note that, unlike the hundreds of people who posted & commented back in 2010 about the R2H shipping incident in Libya, I was the only one (except for the infamous “Gaza 10” of course) who was there, on board the vessel, together with Ken O’ Keefe and the rest of the 9 members of the convoy and their Greek lawyers and all involved authorities. I was also there when the “Gaza 10” were arrested on the ship, brought to the port authorities and then to the court house.

Ken O’ Keefe and myself talked while they were all on the ship and I also talked to other members of the convoy, as well as to their lawyers. I believe Ken O’ Keefe will have no objection whatsoever to confirming the above, should you feel the need to cross-check this.

The reason I’m stating that I was there is in order to clarify that I don’t talk on behalf of anyone else, except for myself, and I certainly do not rely on third parties’ words, in order to take a position on this issue.

Having said this, let me cut to the chase, but before I do, note that I will not respond para by para to your ‘analysis’ of the alleged kidnapping incident in relation to Mary Rizzo’s article. I will though make an effort to explain some things, for the umpteenth time, which they should make you reconsider your stance on this, if you are indeed objective as you say and if you indeed base your thesis on facts & proof.

1) You claim that I was rightfully blocked by the R2H Facebook page due to my “repeated comments”, which as per your own admittance you only “assume” that they were “repeated” and that it would have been better if I had just left a post and left. Moreover, you claim that you “would have travelled half-way across the world to sue if not strangle someone who would have eased my concern only to find my loved one dead from a shipping incident”.

Since you “assume” that I repeated the same comments over & over and that they were annoying or misleading or false or whatever it is you’re insinuating, I refer you to the below 2 screenshots. One is a PM exchanged between the sister of one of the convoy’s members on board the ship, and myself. As you can see yourself, according to a FAMILY MEMBER, the info I left on R2H’s FB page was indeed relieving to the families and most importantly accurate, since according to that family member the info I posted were confirmed to her by the Foreign Affairs. Just for the record, I’m telling you that this family member did indeed call me the day she sent me the PM and I indeed handed my phone to her brother in order for them to speak.
(N.B. The last name of this lady, as well as the tel numbers shown in this PM, have been erased on purpose and substituted with “xxx” for privacy reasons).

private exchange between CB and sister of one of the persons on ship with Ken O’Keefe

In regards to repeating comments over & over again and that being somehow an abuse of ‘freedom of speech’, I will only ask you to have a look at the screenshot concerning Ms. Ellie Merton (R2H’s official liaison at that time), where she posted 10 times in less than 2 minutes the same comment (simply by copy/pasting it), falsely claiming that I am a “legal counsel”, which is not true as I have no relation to the legal profession whatsoever and this can be verified by anyone on this planet, and asking people not to liaise with me as I am ‘dangerous’. I will not comment on the second part of her post and if I’m dangerous or not, as Ken O’ Keefe and the rest of the convoy members can tell you directly if any of them were directly or indirectly endangered by me. As far as it concerns the first part of Ms. Merton’s repetitive post, please tell me Mr. Davis, given that you are a man of facts and proof, since I am not a legal counsel, how would you call Ms. Merton’s claim? Does it fall within the defamatory/libel category according to your criteria?

Ellie Merton posting repeat “warnings” containing untrue information

2) The so called “pre-contract” saga: What Mary Rizzo calls “pre-contract” is what is officially called in shipping a “firm offer”, which just for your guidance is an offer a shipowner makes to the potential charterer of the vessel (charterer in shipping = client in commercial business), which basically includes the freight the shipowner is asking for in order to execute a voyage, i.e. the carriage of a cargo between two destinations. A firm offer, except for the freight, includes a number of other terms & conditions, which are negotiated between the shipowner and the charterer and IF the two parties come to an agreement, then the fixture (as it’s called in shipping) is deemed concluded and a Charter Party (charter party in shipping = contract in commercial business) is then drafted and signed by both parties. In a few words, the ‘pre-offer’ was the shipowner’s firm offer. Note above that I said that a C/P (stands for Charter Party) is signed after the negotiating parties have reached an agreement. In the case of R2H, the charterer and the shipowner never reached an agreement, therefore all negotiations were dropped and eventually there was no fixture.

There are trails of exchanged messages between the shipowner, the charterer and their broker, which clearly show that the negotiations failed and that there was no agreement. Ken O’Keefe (and Ellie Merton) have a copy of these exchanged messages and it is THIS copy Ken O’Keefe sent to Mary Rizzo and he falsely named it as “contract”. Note, that it can only be the exact same copy of messages that was sent to Mary Rizzo by myself, as there were no other existing documents concerning the charter that could be sent, only it was named correctly by myself as “exchanged messages” and not “contract”, since it was not a contract.

At some point in your text, you write:

“…without giving any notice of if the agreement that Ken and his crew believed they had would be honored”.

Note the word you used: “BELIEVED”, i.e. the agreement Ken O’ Keefe thought he had. If he was so sure that there was an agreement and moreover if there was a breach of this agreement from the shipowner’s side, why do you insert the word “believed”? Mr. Davis, have you seen any of the proof you claim that Mary Rizzo doesn’t have in her hands, not to mention that according to you they are totally non-existent? Have you seen any document, whatever that is, with your own eyes? If you haven’t, then I suggest you check your facts first before you make any comments and if you have, then I suggest you read carefully the contents of these documents and make sure to consult a shipping professional to explain to you the process of a shipping negotiation, the meaning of a firm offer and a C/P.

3) A few words on your comments about the NATO’s involvement (or to be more specific, the non–involvement), your example of a taxi driver (although, thankfully, you admit yourself that this analogy is different by a few standards), the “international incident” and your comments about my ‘credentials’.

Ken O’Keefe admitted that he commandeered a ship’s radio and contacted a neighboring vessel seeking for help/intervention. For the sake of clarity, the vessel he contacted was a commercial one (a ship belonging to OOCL’s fleet) and not a NATO vessel. He also admitted that he made a distress call. I suggest you find out yourself the meaning & essence of a “distress call” in shipping. Anyhow, as we all saw from O’ Keefe’s own video, he sought help from a neighboring vessel claiming that he and another 9 persons were being kidnapped. FYI and because I suspect you once again have no proof of what you are claiming, all communications between the commercial ship of OCCL, which was the recipient of the distress call, with all relevant port authorities as well as the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs are recorded. Copies of the recordings are available upon request made to the relevant authorities. I presume, and I emphasize on the word presume, as I do not have firm knowledge on this, that the ‘Gaza 10’ lawyer has already obtained a copy of those recordings for the purposes of supporting their case in court. Since Ken O’ Keefe inadvertently (NOT), left out from his video the response he got from the OOCL ship, maybe you should check for yourself what it was and rest assured all your questions on why NATO wasn’t involved will be answered.

Nice try with your taxi-driver example although when you attempt to make an analogy, you should first make sure that the standards are the same. Your example is wrong by default and I will not explain why here, in the comments section of a webpage, as this would require speedy lessons on shipping and I’m not willing to give such lessons in the internet and especially not for free! I would advise you, if I’m allowed, to learn some basic shipping principles first, as well as shipping law, in depth instead of copying/pasting articles of the penal code from sources irrelevant to shipping and more importantly from irrelevant jurisdictions.

With regards to whether this incident was an “international” one and whether it almost lead to a diplomatic fallout between the involved countries, please note that Mary Rizzo, myself and I presume (again….I presume) the ‘Gaza 10’ lawyer have in our hands a document addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, marked as “Confidential and Urgent” and issued by the Maltese authorities (you might ask why the Maltese? Because the ship’s flies the Maltese flag, ergo it falls under the Maltese jurisdiction…please feel free do your research on the relationship between a ship’s flag and her jurisdiction or alternatively ask Ken O’ Keefe, who according to him is a Captain himself, therefore he should have knowledge on this), where it clearly describes all efforts made by the authorities of the Maltese, Libyan and Greek Authorities in order for a diplomatic fallout between the governments of those countries not to occur. Just for the sake of good order, Mary Rizzo was requested by me to not publish this document, as it is a confidential one, however just as the shipowner’s lawyers have it in their hands, I assume the lawyer of the ‘Gaza 10’ has it as well.

Lastly, as far as it concerns my ‘credentials’, to the best of my knowledge you Mr. Davis never asked me for them, however they are not secret. And since you wonder if Mary Rizzo sought my credentials before she,as you claim, almost entirely based her whole article on my report, I hereby inform you that she did ask for them and she did cross-check them well in advance. As far as I’m concerned, Mary Rizzo did show due diligence with regards to my credentials, in stark contrast with you, which you never did.

To conclude this long comment, I kindly request you Mr. Davis to check your facts first and have proof of your claims before you start analyzing cases, at least when they are related to shipping. Actions speak louder than words, therefore I would expect from someone who claims that he’s all about facts, proof and objectiveness to practice what he preaches.

As I said in the beginning of this comment, you Mr. Davis do not know me, just as I don’t know you; therefore you have no right to question my credibility, credentials and whatever else you question, without having firm knowledge of the actual facts and evidence of your claims. It is a paradox for someone who accuses a journalist for not having checked her facts or gathered evidence to support her writings, to question the credibility of another person, without having showed his own due diligence first.

There are numerous other inaccuracies in your statements above, with regards to R2H fiasco, but as I said, I will not respond to each & every one of them as it is of no merit and since all of them have already been addressed in the past and are posted in public fora. With regards to the rest of your piece, I have not read it as I’m in no way the right person to comment on any part of it, as I don’t have knowledge of the actual facts. The impression I have is that all this is an orchestrated attempt (if not a campaign) to discredit Mary Rizzo, in every way, on behalf of Ken O’ Keefe. I can’t help but wonder why you Mr. Davis are discrediting one person with such passion? I wonder if this orchestrated attempt is an effort to form a negative public opinion about Mary Rizzo a priori to some “big event”? Perhaps, Mr. O’ Keefe is planning his big come back to Gaza and deems necessary to prepare the ground in case Mary Rizzo dares to criticize again any of his future actions? But as I said, this is just an impression I have, in no way am I claiming that I’m right in my assumption…….

You wrote that Mary Rizzo deserves any character assassination results and you also advise her to learn what ‘character’ is.

Ken O Keefe is a great guy in my opinion. You and Kim were wrong to believe anyone is blindly following him. Thus you martyred him and now the truth is out and you all deserve whatever character assassination results. It is called responsibility.

Well, according to the Collins English Dictionary, ‘character assassination is the act of deliberately attempting to destroy a person’s reputation by defamatory remarks” and at when it comes to the R2H fiasco, your claims, comments, statements, etc are not only false but also defamatory as you don’t provide proof of your claims. I must admit though that it must have taken you some courage to admit publicly that you indeed exercise character assassination. Remember, Mr Davis, ‘Verba volant, scripta manent’.


And if that applies for Mary Rizzo, then it applies for you as well. Elbert Hubbard said that
Character is the result of two things: mental attitude and the way we spend our time”. Judging from the length of your piece, it’s crystal clear how you spend your time…as for the mental attitude, I’ll refrain myself from saying more in an attempt to keep things civilized.