February 16, 2009

Out of Africa...

Do you remember that film, entitled "Out of Africa" ? The story of a Danish "Lady" - the Baroness von Blixen something, who settled in Kenya...and wrote her memoirs about the place. She was a landowner...well not quite. She and her husband actually colonized the land -- plantations. The Kenyans, Kikuyus toiled their land on this plantation, in exchange for meager handouts, "gracefully" bestowed by this Danish "Lady".

I can't remember all the details of the film, but I do remember some of the scenery. I was impressed with the natural beauty of the African continent, of Kenya to be more precise. I also recall a few scenes of "natives" toiling the earth in the heat of the African sun, like in some labour camp... And I also have a fleeting memory of some elegant colonial, cool, shaded bedroom, all white, with a big bed covered by spotless "dentelle" sheets and over which hung a bright white "moustiquaire". A bed where Mrs.Blixen was able to reveal to her "higher self", the joys and pleasures of an exotic Eros, tinged with African flavors and hues...

I do not hold a particular urge to watch that film again...I suppose nothing has changed much in Africa since this novel was written...In my opinion it has gotten much worse. The Blixens of this world still have their fingers in the African pie, albeit in a much less "exotic" and "elegant" fashion...

But I did watch a documentary, the other day, on Africa -- directed and produced by Dan Edge and with a reporter called Stephen Grey.

A harrowing report/documentary which made the Kenyan plantation fields filled with the sweat of the "locals" look like playing/amusement parks...

Actually to be more precise, this new "film" did not start in Kenya, but in Egypt.
They say Egypt is the gate between Africa and the Arab world...so I guess it makes sense that it all starts there...

This "film" starts with Abu Omar, kidnapped from Milano by the CIA aided by the Italian secret services, on 17th February 2003, and flown to Egypt via Germany on charges of "terrorism". He "looked suspicious", as many others "looked suspicious". When telling his ordeal, it was a similar story, told time after time -- he was punched, beaten, handcuffed, eyes covered...the whole works...I need not repeat myself each time. The minute he landed and overheard the Egyptian dialect, he said
" My heart stopped..."

With no legal procedures whatsoever and no clear charges, Abu Omar was detained in Egypt where he was tortured and sodomized until he "lost consciousness..." He was left to rot there for a few years, until he was released with NO CHARGES.

I am sure you have already read about the secret network of flights of the CIA, to various destinations and the shadow secret prisons in Uzbekistan, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lybia, Iraq Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantanamo and Uganda.

From Pakistan alone, in 2007, 900 persons disappeared, kidnapped by the CIA "Network of Intelligence" and their families are STILL looking for them.

The rough estimate in these shadow/ghost prisons run by the CIA until 2007, is over 50'000 detainees, 85% of which turned out to be NOT terrorists.
In other words, NO ties to Al-Qaeda and the charges were dropped. In other words INNOCENT.

These 85% were arrested with no legal trial, no council, no jurisdiction, no charges...they simply looked "suspicious".

Other shadow, secret, ghost CIA prisons, and am sure you have read about them were located in Eastern Europe. (check the latest articles on Uruknet - there are about 3 or 4 of them on that subject)

Up until 2007, the favored places in Eastern Europe were Romania and Poland. Flights from Afghanistan would often stop over in Budapest and continue their routes to the above mentioned destinations. No one really knows what took place there and I doubt anyone will...These spots were considered "high interrogation centers", where all "methods" of high interrogation were used...out of sight.

In other words, the CIA's dirty work was undertaken by proxies in other countries, whitewashing the elegant facades of Democracy of the "greatest country on earth"...

According to this documentary, these Eastern European destinations have closed down since...but what you do not know, is that they have been transferred to Africa.

So ladies and gentleman, our first leg of the trip, to Africa, will stop over in Mombasa - Kenya.

A couple of names of detainees come to mind, arrested on NO charges - Abi Drogo (m) Fatima Chandeh, 25(f)and a few others I can't remember...

Fatima's case is quite interesting. Her husband looked "suspicious", and since they could not find him, they arrested her instead. She was interrogated and "threatened to be choked" if she gave no information about her husband's whereabouts. Her husband turned out to be a businessman and had NO ties to Al-Qaeda.

Fatima was not the only female, several others, a total of 40 something were arrested in Kenya and flown to Mogadishu's Somalian dungeons with their CHILDREN.

If you recall, Somalia was in a state of anarchy in 2007 and still is...Ethiopian troops were doing the Americans dirty work there. Some detainees were then transferred to Ethiopia but this is the second leg of our trip...so be patient and fasten your seat belts.

In total, about 85 were kidnapped from Kenya and flown to Somalia, including CHILDREN aged between 8 and 13.

In total about 11 to 15 CHILDREN were detained with their mothers and flown to Somalia. Some of them were whole families. Like the Fazul family -- him, his wife and their kids. Aboard on African Express flight (name of a real company). When African Express was contacted for information, they said that they were "forced to comply". African Express is a civil aircraft carrier.

Once in Somalia, they were totally cut off from the world. No legal council, no trials, no jurisdiction, no lawyers, no government, no Red Cross...but above all, no charges...

Our flight continues ladies and gentleman and this time I would like you to admire the scenery in Ethiopia, our final stop in this "film".

Some of the detainees from Somalia who were "transiting" there for a couple of years, were later flown to Ethiopia.

In Ethiopia, men and women were placed in the same cells. One woman even gave birth there, she was pregnant when arrested in Kenya. She said she was interrogated and beaten by the Americans in Ethiopia. She gave birth in that dungeon on the 18th of May 2008. Four other babies were born in Ethiopian secret prisons, their mothers had been arrested in Kenya and Somalia on NO CHARGES. They only looked "suspicious".
And according to this documentary, 19 prisoners have disappeared from the Ethiopian dungeons, "no one knows where they are..."

The reporter S.Grey managed to find that one woman who was kidnapped in Kenya and flown to Somalia and Ethiopia and released with no trial and no charges. She left Ethiopia to Tanzania, where her family lived. He interviewed her...She did not say much, but her eyes did...They spoke tons. She still does not know what has become of her husband ...as many others do not know what has become of theirs and what will become of themselves...

It was clear that the Americans and their proxies were using the wives and children of "suspects" as a method of harassment and torture -- to get information out

In Ethiopia, there were also about a dozen children detained, with their mothers.
Also a few other nationalities, one Swede, one Tunisian, some Asians, some Arabs, some Africans, they were all arrested because they "looked suspicious"...and flown to Ethiopia.

When the reporter interviewed them, they all smiled and said they were all being treated "very well"...

It turned out that the prison janitors told them prior to filming, that if they said that, they will be released right after the interview. The poor ones were conned. They are still lingering there...in the obscurity.

One young man was released, though. He was 20 years old...He told the story in some details...

He was a student, an English guy travelling with 3 others to Kenya for some field study or voluntary work, I cannot recall exactly. He was an English guy of Indo-Pakistani descent, that is.

He was arrested in Kenya then flown to Somalia, then from there to Ethiopia...
He said, they were all made to take off their shoes and place them in one big plastic bag, about 40 or so, of them. He saw many female and children shoes in this bag. He was fortunately released, as well as his mates when the British government intervened. He mentioned some miracle taking place, where he had access to some mobile phone...But what stuck in my mind, is the following :

As he was being released because of no charges (like the rest of the majority), he was asked to find and pick his shoes from the lot. He said "I remember seeing only three pairs left and I wondered what happened to the other pairs...the children and women shoes..."

Another thing he mentioned and which is very important, this was further corroborated by others in the documentary - namely that those who were doing the interrogations were no longer the CIA but the FBI.

From what I understood, it has become incumbent upon the FBI to continue where the CIA left off. And according to this documentary, the "intelligence network" of the FBI also includes -- French, Israeli, Swedish, Libyan and English partners.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our African film stops here for the time being. But unlike other films, this one does not have a cast. The names will remain shadows and secrets, just like their owners...There are no Blixens, Meryl Streeps or Robert Redfords starring in them...There are no colonial houses and bedrooms where you can recline in the African cool shades and inhale the scents of the green lush plantations...There are no love stories to tell, no exotic romance...

There is only terror, torture, injustice, despair, abandonment, forgetfulness, in these secret dungeons. There are only shadows and ghost stories - out of this African connection...

A list of an unnamed cast, silent unknown actors...

And as a Kenyan, tribal saying goes -- a "clear darkness" -- out of Africa.

NB: For those interested, I reiterate -- Documentary produced and directed by Dan EDGE, reporter Stephen GREY. An Arabic dubbed copy may be obtained from docs@aljazeera.net. Google it for the original English version.

Painting : Iraqi artist, Salem Al-Dabbagh.