Afghanistan Female Delegation Negotiates Face-to-Face with Taliban in Historic Oslo Meeting

OSLO, Norway - Earlier this week, it was widely reported that the first all-female delegation of Afghan women led by Parliamentarians Shukria Barakzai and Fawzia Koofi, met with Taliban representatives in Oslo, Norway to discuss women's rights, with a particular focus on the need for reform in how women are treated within Taliban controlled areas of Afghanistan. The desired outcome of these negotiations was the protection of the gains women’s rights activists had achieved.

"Afghan women defended their rights with courage," Barakzai said. Their demands at this initial meeting were about "safeguarding the democratic values achieved in the last decade."

Given the historically hardline position that the Taliban has exerted over women in Afghanistan in terms of their rights to self-determination, education, and freedom of expression; these talks were a momentous milestone in a road that is still fraught with peril and has many miles to be travelled toward achieving any future power-sharing agreement.

These groundbreaking talks happened in the midst of a country trying to reassert its identity after decades of external and internal military and religious turmoil. An environment which help to foment a level of religious conservatism which promulgated the harshest and most appalling acts of human rights abuses. With the encroachment of ISIS and its extremist’s tactics, most of which make the Taliban seem rational by contrast; ideas and dogma previously held sacrosanct are being reevaluated.

It is within this context of the Arab proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” that new alliances are emerging as Kabul and the Taliban begin to explore a peaceful end to the ongoing conflict. These current talks can be seen as an extension of negotiations hosted by Qatar a month earlier between militants and an unofficial Afghan delegation. Although, Afghan women have been members of parliament for a number of years, these progressive talks provided them with a seat at the table whereupon negotiations affecting all of the citizens of Afghanistan were being discussed.

It was reported that about a dozen women attended the negotiations, although most chose to hide their identities for fear of reprisal. Last year Barakzai was targeted by militants and narrowly escaped a suicide bomb attack with minor injuries. Despite this, she continues to push for women’s rights and praised the relative ease of these talks in part due to the election of President Ashraf Ghani, a prominent supporter of employment and education rights for all Afghan citizens, regardless of gender.

It's too early to tell how much of an impact the unofficial meetings will have, but ideally these historic negotiations will be a turning point in Taliban/women relations and will pave the way for many more similar exchanges.

Contributing Journalist: @SJJakubowski
Facebook: Sarah Joanne Jakubowski

Norwegian Woman Jailed in Dubai for Reporting Rape

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Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 00:32 a.m. DST, 17 August 2013

Dubai Police, Photo by Willi GrillmaierDUBAI, UAE - A Norwegian woman was slapped with jail after reporting to the police in Dubai that she had been raped. Her sentence is longer than her convicted rapist’s.

During her business trip to Dubai, the woman found herself jailed for the consumption of alcohol and for having sex outside of marriage. The exact circumstances remain unclear, however. The Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that she had her passport taken away, and that she was unable to use a phone for three days.

After finally contacting her family, her family mobilized the Foreign Ministry and Norway’s consulate in Dubai. Both organizations were able to get her out of jail and housed at the local Norwegian Seamans Church, where she remained until she received her sentence: one year and four months. Anniken Meling of the Seamans Church told NRK that her attacker was only sentenced for one year and one month.

Alicia Gali was also faced with a similar situation earlier this year, when she was targeted and raped by three of her colleagues.

Gali had signed a managerial contract with an American-owned company named Starwood Hotels, who offered to pay for her ticket and accommodations. Shortly after Gali reached her hotel in Dubai, her colleagues purposely sabotaged her sink so that it would flood, forcing Gali to leave her room, where she entered the hotel’s bar. The colleagues then added additional ice to her drink, where she blacked out and woke up naked in her room.

According to the Blaze, when she wanted to go home, she was told by a senior manager that she owed a “debt” to them since they had paid for her flight and accommodations. The hotel was also holding her passport, which prevented Gali from leaving the country as advised by the Australian consulate.

Gali was sentenced for 11 months for sex outside of marriage, and 1 month for drinking alcohol. Two of the accused rapists received the same sentence, while the third got an extra month.

After eight months, Gali was pardoned and allowed to go home, along with her rapists.

Local laws in Dubai include laws against extramarital sex and drinking alcohol in public places. Additionally according to the Qur’an (2:282), a woman’s testimony is only worth of half that of a man’s in court. Without four witnesses, according to the Qur’an (24:13), the accuser is considered the liar in the eyes of Allah. Though rape is considered piracy of the body or hirabah, without witnesses, women in this situation are considered to actually be confessing to having sex.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki

White Supremacist Anders Breivik Convicted

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 11:54 a.m. EDT, 24 August 2012

Anders Behring Breivik, Photo by Asian MediaOSLO, Norway - Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people during a hate fueled killing spree in July 2011 has been convicted. His reign of terror began when he bombed a government building using a homemade fertilizer bomb much like the American domestic terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, who detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

Breivik killed eight people in the government building attack before driving to the island of Utøya where he embarked on a shooting rampage at a Labor party youth summer camp. During his trial he stated that he was fighting “ethnic cleansing of indigenous Norwegians” through multicultural policies that he says have allowed “Muslim colonization.”

Today, in a Norwegian court, Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen declared that Breivik, a Nazi sympathizer, was sane at the time of the attacks and thus is guilty of murder. She then sentenced him to the maximum punishment under Norwegian law of 21 years of permanent detention, and a minimum of 10, for “terrorist acts.”

Though the Norwegian penal code does not have a provision for life in prison, Breivik’s sentences can be extended in five-year increments if Breivik is determined to be an ongoing danger to society. The judgment was a “unanimous” decision delivered by the five-judge panel minutes after Breivik arrived into court wearing a contemptuous and defiant smile.

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Family members of the victims were openly grieving by crying and sobbing as Breivik arrived in court and confidently stood to hear the sentence pronounced. He reacted with insouciance and obvious pleasure during his sentencing. He had previously demanded the death sentence but Judge Arntzen delivered a verdict that is the harshest possible under the Norwegian penal code.

The decision was greeted with relief by the families of the 77 people killed, most of whom were teenagers. This closure comes after 13 months of adjudication during which the families had to relive each agonizing account of the deaths of their beloved ones while Breivik engaged in hate filled antics. In keeping with his behavior during the trial, Breivik was defiant and demonstrated no remorse.

By contrast, a member of his defense council apologized to the families of the victims for the pain his client caused them, despite the fact that lead council had argued that Breivik should have been remanded to a mental health facility. Breivik hoped that he would be determined as sane because in his opinion it would bolster his ‘militant nationalist’ philosophy.

Ten minutes ago it was reported that Breivik apologized to 'militant nationalist' for not having killed more people during his terror spree.

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Anders Breivik, Norway’s Timothy McVeigh?

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:57 p.m. EDT, 18 April 2012

OSLO, Norway - Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing Norwegian fanatic has proudly admitted to killing 77 people on 22 July 2011. His trial started on Tuesday with his declaration to the court that he did not recognize their authority to judge him. He has been charged with terrorism for both the bomb attack of a government building and the targeted shooting of innocent teenagers.

Unfortunately, in cases of unconscionable violence when ‘normal’ perpetrators commit horrendous acts, it’s often the lives of theirs victims which gets lost in the cacophony of outrage, anguish, and rhetoric. The initial pain the loved ones suffer at the loss of their family members is further exacerbated by the calculated and callous remarks and antics of their murders during trial.

In an effort to keep the focus on the victims, the Police in Norway have published the names and photos of the shooting victims as well as the 8 people who died in the bombing of a government building in central OSLO.  Breivik’s victims received flowers, an outpouring of national grief, and sympathy but in all likelihood it will be his courtroom antics which will remain etched in the memories of the public.

The 69 young people whom Breivik randomly assassinated on the island of Utoeya were involved with the Norwegian Labour Party's youth wing, the AUF. According to him, the youth wing of the Norwegian Labour Party that he attacked was akin to the Hitler Youth movement, indoctrinating young people into hatred of Norway's cultural heritage.

Breivik grandiosity inspired him to compare his killings to the U.S. use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945; when in fact his terrorist act does not even rise to the level of the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. On 19 April 1995 McVeigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people and injuring over 800 people.

Breivik claimed that he had acted in self-defense and that the shootings were a preventive strike to “protect my people, my city, and my country against Muslim domination.” Therefore, from his perspective, he was protecting himself from certain elimination which under Norwegian law; a plea of 'necessity' means a person may not be punished for taking action to defend their person in the face of unavoidable danger.

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As he initiated his testimony, Breivik read his manifesto at high speed in which he stated that Norway and the rest of Europe had not had real democracy except between the two world wars because dissent over multiculturalism was stifled by ''cultural elites'' such as academics, journalists and feminists.

McVeigh also instructed his lawyers to use a necessity defense, but they ended up not doing so because they would have had to prove that McVeigh was in "imminent danger" from the U.S. government. In American criminal law, necessity may be either a possible justification or exculpation for breaking the law.

Defendants seeking to rely on this defense argue that they should not be held liable for their actions as a crime because their conduct was necessary to prevent some greater harm and when that conduct is not excused under some other more specific provision of law such as self-defense. (Source: Wikipedia)

Just as this argument did not work for McVeigh, it will almost certainly fail in the case of Breivik. His trial is expected to last 10 weeks and he faces a sentence of 21 years in prison, which is the maximum sentence the courts can render since Norway does not have the death penalty. The one caveat and small comfort for the families of the victims is that this term can be extended if he is considered a danger to society.

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