Asean Summit, Malaysia on Nov 21, 1015

Asean Summit, Malaysia  on Nov 21, 1015
Asean Establishes Landmark Economic and Security Bloc
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - Text version)

“….. Here is the prediction: China will turn North Korea loose soon. The alliance will dissolve, or become stale. There will be political upheaval in China. Not a coup and not a revolution. Within the inner circles of that which you call Chinese politics, there will be a re-evaluation of goals and monetary policy. Eventually, you will see a break with North Korea, allowing still another dictator to fall and unification to occur with the south. ….”

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk
North Korean defector and activist Hyeonseo Lee, who lives in South Korea, poses as she presents her book 'The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story' in Beijing on March 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Fred Dufour)

US under fire in global press freedom report

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Iran denies testing missiles but ready to talk

Deutsche Welle, 31 December 2011 

The last round of nuclear talks
failed in January
Iran has declared its readiness to resume nuclear talks with world powers. The concession came as a senior navy commander denied state media reports that the Islamic Republic had already test-fired long-range missiles.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi declared on Saturday, December 31, that the Islamic Republic was ready to resume talks with world powers over its nuclear program.

The semi-official Mehr news agency reported that chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeid Jalili will formalize the request in a letter to the head of the six-party negotiations, the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. It is unclear, however, when representatives from Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States will meet.

The concession came in the midst of increased tensions with western powers after Iran threatened to close a key oil shipping route by readying war missile tests near the entrance to the Gulf.

Iran's senior navy commander denied media reports on Saturday that long-range missiles had already been test fired in the Strait of Hormuz during a navy drill. Mahmoud Mousavi told Iran's the state television network IRIB, however, that the exercise would be carried out imminently.

"In the next days, we will test-fire all kinds of surface-to-sea, sea-to-sea and surface-to-air as well as shoulder-launched missiles," he said.

The semi-official Fars news agency, Press TV and the IRNA had earlier reported the test had taken place as part of a ten-day series of naval exercises due to end on Monday.

Simmering dispute

The EU has threatened to follow the
US and ban imports of Iranian oil
According to the US Energy Information Administration, twenty percent of the world's oil moves through the Strait of Hormuz, at the entrance of the Gulf, making it the "most important chokepoint" in the world. Around 14 crude oil tankers pass through the narrow strait every day, carrying 17 million barrels.

The dispute over the channel flared this week after the Iran's Vice President, Reza Rahimi warned the west "not a drop of oil" would be able to pass through the strait if more sanctions were imposed over the country's nuclear program. The US responded by saying a closure "will not be tolerated."

The United Nations have already imposed four rounds of sanctions on Tehran following fears its nuclear program is being used to develop atomic weapons, a charge Iran has denied.

The United States is also among a number of countries to have imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran's economy.

The most recent round of unilateral sanctions prompted members of the Basij militia controlled by the Revolutionary Guards to ransack the British embassy in protest.

Author: Charlotte Chelsom-Pill (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat retrains his fingers

RNW, 30 December 2011, by Jannie Schipper   

(Photo: Ali Ferzat)

"Once my fingers have healed, I'll go back," says the renowned Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat. In a physical attack in August his hands were severely injured, making it temporarily impossible to draw cartoons. Earlier this month Mr Ferzat won the European Sakharov Prize for freedom of speech.

Born in 1951, Ferzat Ali has been working for thirty years as a cartoonist in Syria. He has won several prizes for his work, including the Dutch Prince Claus Award in 2003. Until early 2011 his cartoons used symbols to represent the powerful. But since April, he has drawn recognizable caricatures of the president and other leaders.

"Times have changed," says Mr Ferzat by telephone from Kuwait. "Before, people had time at home to think about the symbols that we used. Since the people have taken to the streets, we should be more direct."

Wall of fear

''Fear dominated the people, including me, "continues Mr Ferzat. However, a year ago he decided, 'to break the wall of fear.' "I was the first person who had drawn caricatures of the president, security officers and ministers since 1963."

That courage nearly cost him his life on 25 August 2011. Mr Ferzat left his office as usual and got into his car. On his way home, a car with tinted windows blocked the road. He knew that type of car was used by the security services. The men kidnapped and assaulted him, aiming specifically at his face and hands. According to Mr Ferzat they had batons with them "like the police use."

Eventually he was thrown out of a moving car on the way to the airport, about fifty miles from his home in Damascus. "Nobody stopped to pick me up because I looked so gruesome and bloody." When a truckload of workers stopped with a flat tyre, he was able to get back into town. At the moment Ali Ferzat is still recovering in Kuwait.

Old friends

Mr Ferzat and Bashar al-Assad are old friends. The cartoonist has worked for various state media and knows the president personally. "Before Bashar al-Assad came to power, he had discussions with intellectuals and artists. We could propose solutions to the problems we encountered."

When Bashar took over the reins from his deceased father Hafez al-Assad in 2000, according to Mr Ferzat he talked about freedom and modernization. Encouraged by the president, the cartoonist started the independent magazine Al-Domari (the lamp igniter), which is considered as the first independent magazine since the Baath Party came to power.


But the fun was soon over. "The same president who had encouraged me to tackle the economic mafia in the country, was absent when they declared war on me." When the regime realised after a few months that Al-Domari was not afraid of publishing sharp criticism, the censorship got worse.

"Sometimes we published white pages instead of the censored articles," says Mr Ferzat. With some irony, he adds: "The white copies sold better than the printed ones." The distribution was taken over by the regime, "so that they had the freedom not to publish the magazine." After two years Al-Domari came to an end.

Mr Ferzat is convinced that the insurgents in Syria will win. "The response of repression and security that the regime has chosen, has failed. Now, people face the deadly weapons with bare chests."

Return to Syria

Mr Ferzat is busy retraining his fingers. Once he has recovered, the cartoonist will return to Syria. That's not a choice, he says. "I don't own a supermarket that I can freely open and close. Drawing cartoons is my only profession. The art is a gift from God, and I must continue to bring my message."

This article is a co-production with PRI's The World.

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Doomed teen Ben Breedlove shares life after death experiences on YouTube

Rawstory, by Agence France-Presse, Friday, December 30, 2011 

Ben Breedlove
CHICAGO — A week before Ben Breedlove died of a heart attack, the Texas teenager posted a remarkable video describing the peace and bright lights he’d found the other times his heart stopped. 

Breedlove, 18, tells his story with simple note cards and the occasional smile, sitting close to the camera and stepping back just once to show the scar from when a pacemaker was implanted to help his troubled heart.

It is a remarkably hopeful video, though Breedlove also describes the fear he lived with after being born with a serious heart condition and disappointment that he could not play sports and “be the same as everyone else.” 

“The first time I cheated death was when I was 4,” one of the cards said.

Breedlove had a seizure and as nurses rushed him down a hospital hallway, he told his mother of the bright light overhead.

She said she couldn’t see anything, but he felt his fear and worries washed away and couldn’t help smiling.

“I can’t even describe the peace, how peaceful it was,” he wrote. “I will NEVER forget that feeling or that day.”

Breedlove nearly died again a few months ago when his heart stopped during a routine surgery to remove his tonsils.

“It was a miracle that they brought me back,” he wrote. “I was scared to die but am SO glad I didn’t.”

Breedlove’s heart stopped again on December 6. He was at his Austin high school and sat down on a bench after feeling like he was going to faint.

He passed out and when he woke up, he couldn’t talk or move. He could only watch and listen as paramedics put shock pads on his chest.

He heard them say that his heart had stopped and that he had no pulse, which he explains by the fact that “when people’s bodies ‘die’ the brain still works for a short time.”

“I really thought to myself, this is it, I’m dying,” he wrote.

“The next thing that happened I’m not sure if it was a dream or vision. But while I was still unconscious I was in this white room. No walls, it just went on and on…”

He found himself standing with his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi, and they were both dressed in really nice suits.

“Why he was the only one there with me, I’m still trying to figure out,” Breedlove wrote.

“I had that same feeling, I couldn’t stop smiling. I then looked at myself in the mirror and I was proud of MYSELF. Of my entire life, everything I have done. IT WAS THE BEST feeling.”

Kid Cudi put his hand on his shoulder and then Breedlove’s favorite song came on, the part where Cudi raps “when will this fantasy end… when will the heaven begin?”

Cudi told him “Go now” and Breedlove woke up.

After viewing the video, the rapper said he broke down in tears watching it.

“This has really touched my heart in a way I cant describe, this is why I do what I do. Why I write my life, and why I love you all so much,” Kid Cudi wrote on his blog.

“I know Ben is at Peace, and I hope he gets a chance to sit and talk with my Dad.”

Breedlove ended his video with four final cards: “I didn’t want to leave that place. I wish I NEVER woke up. Do you believe in angels or God? I Do.”

Breedlove died at Christmas and his family said in his death notice that it was a gift from God.

“We know the Lord used the amazing life of our precious son to reach a weary world on Christmas night, just as He did over 2000 years ago with his own Son,” they wrote, and urged people to find the video that Breedlove posted on YouTube on December 18.

Related Articles:

"Perceptions of God" – June 6, 2010 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Quantum TeachingThe Fear of God, Near-death Experience, God Becomes Mythology, Worship, Mastery, Intelligent Design, Benevolent Creator,Global Unity.... etc.(Text version)

“… When a Human almost dies, they get close to the veil, very close. They are ever so close to the creator's energy and just barely touched by it. When their heart was stopping and their breathing was almost gone, before they were brought back to life with science, they got to touch the hand of God for just an instant. What they saw was magnificent! The energy before them was filled with love and light, filled with family, filled with beauty. There was no strife there. There was no punishment there or even the hint of it. And when they came back from that experience, listen to what they told you. It changed their lives, didn't it? Listen to each one talk about it, for they continued to say, "There is nothing to fear and death is something you experience as a normal transition." Blessed is the Human Being who experiences both death and birth and has the wisdom to report, "Oh, it's uncomfortable, but I'll get through it, because I've done it before." The person who has experienced a near-death experience is no longer afraid to die! What does that tell you? They have seen what is there and they embrace it! …”

Fox asks: Did the Jews kill Jesus?, 30 December, 2011

Fox Latin America is being forced to apologize after Rupert Murdoch’s Spanish-language outlet added a questionable poll to its Facebook page as part of a failed promotion.

In an outlandish effort to promote a Christmas special this year on the National Geographic Channel, a Fox Latin America staffer asked fans on the group’s Facebook page, "Who do you think is responsible for the death of Christ?”

The options were Pontius Pilate, High Priests and “Jewish People.” Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with a decent number of Fox’s audience.

In the past, Fox has been called out for its criticism with Muslims and its misrepresenting of followers of Islam, and regularly considered a supporter of Judeo-Christian beliefs. The poll that made it to the network’s Facebook page suggests that a new religion might be on the hit-list for the Latin American branch of the News Corp empire, however.

Fox Spokeswoman Guadalupe Lucero immediately apologized to those offended by the error and assures the network’s Facebook followers that it would be the last time such a gaffe was given the go-ahead. The Simon Weisenthal Center, a Jewish advocacy group based out of Buenos Aires, says it isn’t that easy to dimiss, however. In a statement to the Associated Press, the group calls the inclusion of Jews in the answer pool a reference to outdated Catholic propaganda that characterizes Jewish people as the killers of Jesus Christ. That campaign, says the center, "resulted in the persecution and murder of Jews for two millennia."

Pope Benedict XVI has criticized the Catholic Church for the campaign himself, and in his book Jesus of Nazareth Part II he says there is no wording in the Bible that singles out the Jews for the killing of Christ.

Related Articles:

(Subjects: Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

" .. If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening...."

"Perceptions of God" – June 6, 2010 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Quantum Teaching, The Fear of God, Near-death Experience, God Becomes Mythology, Worship, Mastery, Intelligent Design, Benevolent CreatorGlobal Unity.... etc.(Text version)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Vietnam jails two rights activists for propaganda

Antara News, Fri, December 30 2011

 Both were arrested on November 15 for "collecting documents and writing articles which tarnished the reputation of the Communist Party and the Socialist regime".

Related News

HANOI (ANTARA News/AFP) - A woman writer was sentenced to five years in prison in Vietnam for spreading anti-government propaganda, state media said Friday, with an activist pastor also jailed for two years.

Ho Thi Bich Khuong in an 
undated photo. (RFA)
Ho Thi Bich Khuong, 44, received three years house arrest on top of her five year term, and Nguyen Trung Ton, 40, was given a similar extra penalty of two years, the Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan reported.

Their one-day trial took place on Thursday in the central province of Nghe An, it said.

Both were arrested on November 15 for "collecting documents and writing articles which tarnished the reputation of the Communist Party and the Socialist regime", according to the report.

The Communist Party is the only authorized political party in Vietnam.

Khuong was also accused of giving interviews to foreign radio stations against the state, posting them on the Internet and of belonging to several human rights groups involving "reactionary" people.

She was sentenced in April 2008 to two years in jail for "abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State".

Rights groups say dozens of peaceful political critics and rights campaigners have been sentenced to long prison terms in Vietnam since the one-party state launched a crackdown on free expression in late 2009.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last month that Vietnam must improve its human rights record.

Editor: Ella Syafputri
Related Article:

North Korea says 'expect no change'

Deutsche Welle, 30 December 2011 

The new Great Leader has squashed
hope of reform
A day after ending a state memorial for its late leader Kim Jong Il, North Korea has warned the "world's foolish politicians" that there will be no policy change on South Korea or the North’s nuclear program.

North Korea has warned the "world's foolish politicians" that there will be no policy change towards South Korea, or on the North's nuclear program, as its new Great Leader Kim Jung Un takes power after his father's death.

"We solemnly declare with confidence," said the National Defence Commission (NDC) in a statement, "that the South Korean puppets and foolish politicians around the world should not expect any change."

And it said it would "never deal with the traitor group of Lee Myung-Bak," the South's president.

But adding confusion to an otherwise tough line, the NDC said it would "continue to push hard towards the path of improved relations."

Tough transition 

The memorial for Kim Jong Il was seen
as a performance for the rest of the world
In a two-day ceremony in Pyongyang, North Koreans bid farewell to their leader of 17 years, Kim Jong Il, on Wednesday and Thursday.

The ceremony was seen a first test for his youngest son and successor, Kim Jung Un, who is considered inexperienced, and has inspired wstern analysts to express uncertainty and question what his tenure holds.

Friday's statement is North Korea's response.

"It is also raising the stakes," said Koh Yu-hwan at Seoul's Dongguk University. "So in case the South wants better relations, Pyongyang can extract greater concessions."

South Korea's Unification Ministry said it would also maintain its current policy and not react to every statement from the North.

Frosty by design 

The sun hasn't shone on Inter-Korean
ties since 2008
Inter-Korean ties have been cold since February 2008 when President Lee took office and linked future economic aid to the North with progress towards its nuclear disarmament.

President Lee made a point of breaking with his country's unpopular Sunshine Policy towards the North, offering a tougher line than the one presented by his predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun.

Since then, relations have deteriorated further.

Pyongyang has repeatedly been accused of provoking Seoul with long-range missile tests. And in 2010, it was also accused - by Seoul and others in the international community - of having torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel, killing 46 sailors. It denies involvement.

In the same year, the North justified its shelling of the South's Yeonpyeong Island by saying it had been provoked by a live-fire exercise, conducted jointly by the South and the United States near the two Koreas Yellow Sea border.

It was the first direct act of aggression since the Korean Civil War.

Technically, the two Koreas remain at war because a peace deal was never formally agreed.

Kim Jung Un's succession as Great Leader of North Korea has raised fears that the regime may will to reassert its power with a new act of aggression.

Author: Zulfikar Abbany (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Ben Knight

Related Articles:

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - (Text version)

“…..   Here is the prediction: China will turn North Korea loose soon. The alliance will dissolve, or become stale. There will be political upheaval in China. Not a coup and not a revolution. Within the inner circles of that which you call Chinese politics, there will be a re-evaluation of goals and monetary policy. Eventually, you will see a break with North Korea, allowing still another dictator to fall and unification to occur with the south. ….”

RI could become pioneer for muslim nations` progress: Iran's Minister

Antara News, Fri, December 30 2011

Related News

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Iran`s Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Security Dr Abdoreza Sheikholeslami said Indonesia could become a pioneer for the progress of other Muslim majority nations.

"Even a pioneer for the progress of the developing world," the minister said when receiving Indonesian Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri in Tehran as quoted by Sapto Waluyo, a social affairs ministry senior adviser on Friday.

Iran was ready to cooperate in social development for the sake of more evenly spread progress in the world, he said.

Progress should not be monopolized by certain advanced countries, Abdoreza was quoted as saying by Sapto.

Minister Salim welcomed Minister Abdoreza`s cooperation offer and said Iran was a great country with a civilization dating back hundreds of years ago.

Both countries had the potential to become pioneers in efforts to bring about change in the world if the two nations could synergize their existing resources, according to Salim.

Minister Salim and his delegation also held a meeting with Deputy Governor of Isfahan Alizera Hamedani on Thursday (Dec 29).

Editor: Aditia Maruli

Afghan girl's 'horrifying abuse' exposed by video

BBC News, by Caroline Wyatt, Kabul, 29 December 2011

Related Stories 

The 15-year-old says her hair and her nails
were pulled out by her mother-in-law
A video given to the BBC shows the extent of the injuries suffered by a 15 year-old Afghan child bride who was locked up and tortured by her husband.

The girl was left starving after being detained by him and his family for several months.

The case came to light this week when police rescued the teenager, Sahar Gul, who had been locked up in the basement of her in-laws' house.

Police say that she had had her nails and clumps of hair pulled out.

In addition they say she had chunks of flesh cut out with pliers.

Windowless room

Sahar Gul was married off to a 30-year-old man around seven months ago, when she was just 14 years old. Her parents contacted police after not being able to see her for several months.

She was rescued from a dark, windowless room in her in-laws' house, according to Baghlan police official Jawid Basharat.

In the video, as Sahar is taken to hospital in a wheelchair, she is asked who beat her. She names her father-in-law, her husband, her sister-in-law, her brother-in-law and her mother-in-law. The 15-year-old says her hair and her nails were pulled out by her mother-in-law.

The authorities in the northern Baghlan province said they were aware of reports that the girl was tortured after she refused to be forced into prostitution, but could not confirm that was the case.

Rahima Zarifi, director of the Women's Affairs Department in Baghlan, said Sahar had been severely tortured, both physically and mentally, and that the psychological scars were likely to endure.

The police have managed to arrest Sahar's in-laws, but her husband had already fled.

Women in many parts of Afghanistan continue to suffer domestic abuse, often at the hands of their own family or in-laws.

Human rights activists worry that the plight of many women here, especially in rural areas, is being sidelined as the international community focuses on its military drawdown, and puts less emphasis and less pressure on the Afghan authorities over human rights.

In the second quarter of this year alone, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission registered 1,026 cases of violence against women, compared with a total last year of 2,700.

Those are only the cases that come to light.

Under Afghan law, the earliest age for marriage for girls is 16. However, almost half of Afghan women are married when they are younger.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Saudi women to run, vote without male approval

The Jakarta Post, Abdullah Al-Shihri and Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,  Thu, 12/29/2011

Free to choose: In this April 29 file photo, a Saudi woman
 attends a traditional Arda dance, or War dance, during the
 Janadriyah Festival of Heritage and Culture, on the outskirts
of the Saudi capital Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A Saudi official
says for the first time, women in the conservative kingdom will
not need a male guardian's approval to run or vote in municipal
elections in 2015. (AP/Hassan Ammar)
Women in Saudi Arabia will not need a male guardian's approval to run or vote in municipal elections in 2015, when women will also run for office for the first time, a Saudi official has said.

The change signifies a step forward in easing the kingdom's restrictions against women, but it falls far short of what some Saudi reformers are calling for.

Shura Council member Fahad al-Anzi was quoted in the state-run al-Watan newspaper on Wednesday saying that approval for women to run and vote came from the guardian of Islam's holiest sites, the Saudi king, and therefore women will not need a male guardian's approval. 

The country's Shura Council is an all-male consultative body with no legislative powers.

Despite the historic decision by the king to allow women the right to participate in the country's only open elections, male guardian laws in Saudi Arabia remain largely unchanged. Women cannot travel, work, study abroad, marry, get divorced or gain admittance to a public hospital without permission from a male guardian.

The country is guided by an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam called Wahhabism.

Hatoun al-Fasi, a women's history professor in Riyadh, said just the announcement that Saudi women can run for office and vote without permission will stir debate.

"It's being brought up out of the blue and could open doors to discussions that we have enough of already," al-Fasi said.

While King Abdullah has pushed for some changes on women's rights, he has been cautious not to push too hard against ultraconservative clerics, who have in the past challenged social reforms. Saudi's ruling family draws its legitimacy from the backing of the kingdom's religious establishment.

The male guardianship laws are particularly stifling for women, Saudi female activist Wajeha al-Hawidar said.

"These laws make the woman like a child in all aspects of her life. She is not dealt with as an adult with a fully developed brain," al-Hawidar said.

The restrictions are practically all-encompassing.

Saudi women cannot study abroad unless a male guardian approves and accompanies them throughout their studies. Government-run hospitals are allowed to perform surgery on women only with approval from a male guardian, except in emergencies. Male guardians in Saudi Arabia are allowed to remove their daughters or sisters from school at any time. In the case that a father, uncle or brother is not available, mothers turn to their sons for approval to work or travel.

"Male guardianship laws are a problem that the Saudi woman has been dealing with for years. 

It's our number one demand that these laws be revoked," al-Fasi said. "It goes against the social rights that Islam gives women."

Al-Fasi and other Saudi women have been pushing the Saudi government for social reforms and greater rights for women, including allowing women the right to drive and for the dissolution of male guardianship laws. Saudi women have staged protests defying the ban.

Al-Hawidar said Wednesday's announcement means another barrier for women in Saudi Arabia has been lifted. However, she said the government might not see it through, because of expected resistance by those opposing such reforms.

"There are people in the government willing to listen reasonably, but people in society are not," al-Hawidar said. "They will hate you just for being different, and with these people there is no common language."