Justice For Saira ! Why is no one protecting Saudi Arabia’s child brides?

A huge banner bearing a portrait of Saudi King Abdullah

‘The Saudi monarchy has a long history of marrying very young girls.’ Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Atgaa, 10, and her sister Reemya, 8, are about to be married to men in their 60s. Atgaa will be her husband’s fourth wife. Their wedding celebrations are scheduled for this week and will take place in the town of Fayaadah Abban in Qasim, Saudi Arabia.

The girls are getting married because their financially struggling father needs the money that their dowries will provide: young girls of this age can fetch as much as $40,000 each.

Many readers might be shocked at this news. How can it be legal? The answer is that Saudi Arabia has no minimum age for marriage, and it is perfectly legal to marry even an hour-old child.

Three Saudi ministries share the blame for allowing and facilitating child marriages. The health ministry is tasked with conducting genetic tests for couples considering marriage. Saudi law requires potential brides and grooms to provide certificates of genetic testing before marriages can officially proceed.

The justice ministry regulates the marriage process and issues licences. And the interior ministry registers families and documents the relationships between family members. It is also the most powerful government agency; it has authority over all other ministries and can direct their activities at will.

As with many pernicious practices, child marriage would not exist without tacit support and approval from the country’s leadership. Far from condemning child marriage, the Saudi monarchy itself has a long history of marrying very young girls.

Sarah, who is now a brilliant Saudi doctor, told me she was barely 12 when the late prince Sultan proposed to her after seeing her walking at a military base where she had lived with her father. Luckily, her father had the wits to claim that she was chronically ill, at which point the proposal was swiftly rescinded.

Camel festivals, held at his time of the year in Saudi Arabia, witness the practice called akheth (“taking”) in which girls aged 14 to 16 are “gifted” to the usually elderly members of the monarchy for a few days or weeks. This practice, reminiscent of the infamous droit du seigneur in medieval Europe, is maintained to this day with the monarchy’s protection.

Saudi Arabia has probably the highest number of child marriages in the Middle East and yet there has been almost no international outrage or objection directed at the practice. I have personally sent two letters to Ann Veneman, the director of United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), regarding the Saudi practice and asking her to make her views on the issue public, as she did with Yemen.

Instead, Unicef lauded Saudi efforts to protect child rights and even honoured Prince Naif, whose interior ministry is one of the departments overseeing child marriages. So no wonder the Saudi monarchy feels confident that such a practice can continue.

The US government has been similarly indifferent to the plight of child brides in the kingdom. In April 2009, I wrote to William Burns, the undersecretary of state, regarding the case of Sharooq, 8 – also from Qasim. I never heard back from him.

At a public conference, I asked a former senator, Chuck Hagel (seated next to Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former head of Saudi intelligence), if he personally or the US would accept the friendship and alliance of a family that allows child marriage. The answer was nothing short of shocking: “We cannot decide for other countries what is appropriate or not,” he said.

So far, no UN body, such as Unicef or the human rights council, has issued a single statement condemning child marriages in Saudi Arabia [see footnote]. In fact, not one country has made a statement in the human rights council on this issue, and not a single western government has asked the Saudi monarchy to stop the practice. The ugly tradition of child marriage thus continues with the help of the monarchy and its apologists in the west.

If any governments, especially in the west, are seriously concerned with this barbaric and medieval practice, they should ban the heads of Saudi justice, interior and health ministries from entering their countries. If this action were taken against government leaders facilitating crimes against children we would soon see a resolution of this issue.

Saudi Arabia must be pressured to set a minimum age for marriage and save children like Atgaa and Reemya.

• This footnote was added on 15 November 2011. Unicef would like to make clear that a statement was issued in 2009 by Ann Veneman, then its executive director, expressing deep concern about child marriage in Saudi Arabia.



Report on MagHaberry for UNHRW

I enjoyed your recent talk at I.S. Hamburg. Thank you forgiving me your contact details. The Human Rights situation which I am deeplyconcerned about is with regard to the Internment and Torture happening in HMPMaghaberry in the North of Ireland.In this report I have included a timeline of events.Statements from Prisone…rs and families of ex prisoners, statements fromPolitical Parties, Press and media articles as well as links to video and othermulti media.
To begin with, might I take this opportunity to raiseconcerns that there appears to be an almost complete media blackout of theevents which are happening in HMP Maghaberry, and that things have deteriorated(since you and I first spoke,) to the point where there are now upwards of 20prisoners involved in a “no wash” protest. This involves either smearing theirexcrement on the walls of their cells or alternatively “stirring” the excrementand urine together to form a liquid which is then poured out of the cell doors,and unfortunately almost invariably swept back into the cells by staff andothers involved in the cleaning of the prison wings.
Whilst I and others are extremely concerned about thewelfare of all of the Prisoners there are a numbers of Prisoners which forreasons of chronic ill health we feel compelled to highlight specifically andindividually.
They are as follows.
Marian Price Mc Glinchey – a female prisoner currently beingheld in Hydebank women’s prison, after being held for over 9 months inisolation in an all male prison. Marian suffers from arthritis, PTSD, anorexiaand is now in constant pain and has progressive alopecia. Information on Marian, see Attachment 1
Gerry Mc Geough- a male prisoner in his 50’s, currently heldin Maghaberry,  with chronic and lifethreatening heart failure, who we feel should have qualified under the “GoodFriday” St Andrews agreementand been granted parole on compassionate grounds.


Despite this Mr Mc Geough has had to be admitted to hospital on severaloccasions because of post-operative complications with “Stents” which werefitted in his circulatory system (5 have been fitted to date).He has recently been moved from the prison to hospital under a veil of secrecy,causing his wife and family quite some distress. See Attachment 2.
Martin Corey – a male prisoner in his 50’s currently beingheld without charge or explanation on the orders of Owen Patterson MP,Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who it seems over-rules the electedParliament of Northern Ireland, including the Minister for Justice David Ford.See Attachment 3.
Tony Taylor – a male “Remand” Prisoner in his 50’s. Tony hadhis spleen removed several years ago and still has shrapnel in his body from abomb-blast which occurred just prior to his spleen having to be removed. SeeAttachment 4.
Brian Shivers- a male Prisoner Terminally Ill suffering fromCystic Fibrosis and been told by specialists that he has five years or less tolive (if given adequate medical treatment). Brian has just been sentenced to 25years in prison, effectively a death sentence given his health condition. SeeAttachment 5.

History of Brendans illness “Ankylosing Spondylitis”. Thecampaign to free him: Re: The medical facilities at HMP Maghaberry. See Attachment 6.
Other useful contacts t etc. Included in Attachment 8.
Conclusion:For the best part of 2 years now, Irish Prisoners in HMPMaghaberry have been involved in some form of protest over conditions withinthe Prison. Points of particular confrontation would appear to be the continueduse of forced strip searching of Prisoners and continued controlled movement.These practices continue despite an agreement being reached between Prisonersand Prison authorities in August 2011. The agreement was reached with the helpof outside mediators including clergymen, but has so far not been implementedby the Prison authorities. Apart from the aforementioned circumstances ofPrisoners being incarcerated in HMP Maghaberry several other Prisoners andtheir families have alleged that a system of regular brutality and isolationprevails within the Prison. Recently released Prisoners Damian Mc Laughlin and Colin Duffy have gone onrecord to detail the situation within the Prison. See Attachment 8.
It is my own professional opinion, having studied Medicine at Degree level, that notonly are the Healthcare “facilities” at Maghaberry inadequate, but I believethat they are in fact “non-existent”. For example: The ex prisoner BrendanLillis being given approx. 10 days to live due to being unable to tolerate foodof fluids and the “Maghaberry” Medical staff being unable to even cannulate avein for an intravenous infusion of potentially life saving fluids.Mr Lillis has since been released to the care of outside Medical facilities andhis family.
It is my sincere hope that UNHRW will take positive actionRe: Maghaberry Prison, as to date all other avenues that have been exploredhave proved to be unhelpful.Particularly unhelpful has been Amnesty International Ireland who despite beingcontacted several times about ths situation have chosen either to ignore theconcerns and furthermore, recently deleting legitimate comments and questionsfrom their Facebook page and banning anyone from their page who raises even theleast concern about the situation in HMP Maghaberry.
Bearing in mind that the eerily similar situation in theH-Blocks of HMP Maze resulted in the deaths on Hunger-Strike of 10 Prisoners, Iimplore you to investigate the situation in Maghaberry Prison as matter ofgreat urgency.
Yours faithfully
Mr Nollaig Connolly O.D.P. M.T.O.  
 Linked Attachments
Attachemnt 1 Re:Marian Price Mc Glinchey.

Attachment 2 Re: Gerry Mc Geough.
Attachment 3 Re:Martin Corey.
Attachment 4 Re: Tony Taylor
Attachment 5 Re:Brian Shivers.
Attachment 6 Re:Brenda Lillis.
Attacment 7 Re: Statements from recently released ex prisoners Damian Mc Laugling & Colin Duffy.
http://friendsofcolinduffy.com/ColinspeaksoutaboutMaghaberry.aspxLiam Mellows Society, Derry
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Friends.Of.Brendan.Lillis/#!/mandy.mccabe.duffy/posts/2989540852043http://www.32csm.net/2012/02/32csm-female-member-beaten-to-pulp-by.html#!/2012/01/echoes-of-1981-from-andersonstown-news.htmlAttachment 8 Helpful Link to Families & Friends of Prisoners and other contactshttp://republicanprisonersmaghaberry.com/default.aspxAttachment 9  Useful Contact for Northern Ireland Assembly.Emmett DoyleParliamentary Advisor to Pat Ramsey MLA.

St Pauli Maghaberry Awareness Group Deutschland 
contact details stpaulimag@yahoo.ie.

POSTED ON BEHALF OF :  Nollaig StPauli Connolly

Suburbia Roller Derby Season Opener: Brawl vs. Hellions of Troy

Suburbia Roller Derby Season Opener: Brawl vs. Hellions of Troy


127 North Broadway – One block South of Ashburton Ave, Yonkers, NY 10701
POSTED ON BEHALF OF :  Public event · By Suburbia Roller Derby

Eirigi Ballyfermot Fundraiser With The Dublin Twangmen

Eirigi Ballyfermot Fundraiser With The Dublin Twangmen

    21:00 until 00:00
    The 79 Inn Ballyfermot Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10
  •   Eirigi Ballyfermot are having a fundraising night with ballad group The Dublin Twangmen on Saturday 25th February in the 79 Inn Ballyfermot at 9pm. Tickets are €5 and are available from Daithi at 0872371202.

POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Public event · By Ger Devereux



Thursday, 8 March 2012

POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Public event · By Brenda Downes and Martine Jackson


The date for this public meeting is also ”International Women’s Day” Please make the effort to attend ..

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Kingsmills march to be postponed

the bullet riddled minibus near Kingsmills in South Armagh in which 10 Protestant workmen were massacred
The bullet-riddled minibus in which 10 Protestant workmen were massacred
A march commemorating 10 Protestant workmen murdered by the IRA at Kingsmills in 1976 has been postponed.

The march was due to take place this Saturday.

William Frazer of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (Fair) said the march had been postponed in light of two recent bereavements and at the request of the Kingsmills families.

UUP MLA Danny Kennedy has welcomed the decision.

“The decision was taken in the interests of community relations,” he said.

“I know that this decision was difficult and indeed, painful for many, however, it is a huge gesture of goodwill and I wish to commend the organisers and the Kingsmills families in taking this step,” he added.

“The decision not to march on Saturday does not in any way take away from the need to obtain clear answers as to who carried out the massacre at Kingsmills.

“There is still palpable hurt within the local unionist community.

“The recent report which was undertaken by the Historical Enquiries Team highlighted the need for many questions still to be answered.

“Only by discovering the truth will closure and healing be brought to the families who lost loved ones in this horrific tragedy.”

Mr Frazer said the march would “still take place at a later date”.

The Parades Commission had placed restrictions on the march which was to go through the village of Whitecross.

One of the organisers of the march, Pastor Barry Halliday, who had helped Fair plan the parade, last week claimed that he had been threatened.


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Alleged Continuity IRA leader ‘stays silent’ over Carroll murder

Scene of shooting
Constable Carroll was shot dead after responding to a 999
The alleged commander of the Continuity IRA in mid-Ulster refused to answer police questions about the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll, a court has heard.

Belfast Crown Court heard Eddie Breen was arrested last February but remained silent during police interviews. He was later released without charge.

John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan and Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, both deny murder.

Constable Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009, after responding to a 999 call.

Tracking deviceOn Wednesday, a transcript of a police interview was read to the court which outlined the accusations put to Eddie Breen by a detective.

It included that he had planned the murder and fired the gun.

The court was also told that a partial print on the magazine of the AK47 gun used in the killing matched neither Mr Breen nor Mr McConville.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Mr Wootton said his client was in his car in the area at the time of the killing, but was with a friend collecting a Chinese takeaway.

A police officer said that Mr Wootton had changed his statement about his movements which had been recorded on a tracking device hidden on his car by an Army intelligence unit.

The trial continues.


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