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Thread: Sentenced to death for downloading an internet report on women's rights!

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    New Born Krrish's Avatar
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    Unhappy Sentenced to death for downloading an internet report on women's rights!

    Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, has been inundated with appeals to save the life of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist sentenced to death after being accused of downloading an internet report on women's rights.

    While international protests mounted over the affair, with the British Government saying it had already raised its concerns, hundreds of people marched through the capital, Kabul, demanding Mr Kambaksh's release.

    A petition launched yesterday by The Independent to secure justice for Mr Kambaksh had attracted more than 13,500 signatories by last night, and a number of support groups have been set up on the social networking site Facebook with more than 400 joining one group alone.

    Mr Kambaksh, 23, was arrested, tried and convicted by a religious court, in what his friends and family say was a secret session without being allowed legal representation.

    The United Nations, human rights groups, journalists' organisations and diplomats urged Mr Karzai's government to quash the death sentence and release him.

    Instead, on Wednesday, the Afghan senate passed a motion confirming the death sentence. The MP who proposed the ruling condemning Mr Kambaksh was Sibghatullah Mojadedi, a key ally of Mr Karzai.



    In London David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, told The Independent that Britain had raised Mr Kambaksh's case as a member of the European Union and with the United Nations, as well as strongly supporting a call by the UN special representative to Afghanistan for a review of the verdict.

    He said: "We are opposed to the death penalty in all cases and believe that freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society." The British Government is funding training for journalists in the country as part of an effort to create a civic society.

    Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "It is clear that this case has nothing to do with blasphemy and everything to do with prejudice. Afghanistan is sliding back towards the bad old days where women were subjugated and journalists persecuted. We have invested far too much in Afghanistan to allow freedom and democracy to falter. If this sentence is carried through, it will raise major questions about the country's future."

    William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said: "We call upon President Karzai and his government to urgently reconsider the decision to sentence Pervez Kambaksh to death. Mr Kambaksh was tried without being allowed any legal representation. Moving towards the rule of law is a vital part of peace-building in Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan cannot feel secure unless protected by a body of law and a functioning judicial system."

    The former foreign office minister Denis MacShane, who has raised the matter of Mr Kambaksh's "persecution" with the Foreign Office, said: "The challenge to freedom of expression from fundamentalist Islam is now a major world problem. The maximum pressure must be put on President Karzai, ministers and MPs in Afghanistan stressing that if they want to be partners in democracy then this young man must be set free."

    The Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, chairman of the all-party group for the abolition of the death penalty, has put down an early day motion urging the British Government to intercede to save Mr Kambaksh's life. In a Commons plea to Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House, he said: "I draw the Leader of the House's attention particularly to the front page of The Independent which highlights the case of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh... Surely, given our current involvement in that country... we will not just sit back and allow this monstrous act to take place without doing anything about it?"

    Ms Harman replied: "The Government are determined to stand up for human rights, including freedom of speech, in all countries, and are of course concerned about the matter."

    Among the representations received by Mr Karzai was one from the International Federation of Journalists, based in Brussels, which stated: "Upholding freedom of expression is essential for your country's democratic progress. This death sentence indicates a disregard by your government for its own constitution."

    The Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York, pointed out that the trial was held in secret and expressed concern that any appeal process would be biased. The organisation said in its letter: "He should be allowed to resume his studies without delay or punishment."

    The row over Mr Kambaksh's death sentence came during another day of violence in Afghanistan.

    Abu Laith al-Libi, reputed to be the senior al-Qa'ida commander in the country, was said to have been killed. US and British officials said they were receiving "normally reliable reports" that al-Libi was killed during a rocket attack in northern Waziristan on the Afghan-Pakistan border earlier in the week. A website used by Islamist groups, ekhlaas.org, said last night evening that al-Libi had "fallen a martyr".

    Earlier yesterday, the deputy governor of Helmand province, Haji Pir Mohammed, was killed in a suicide bomb attack on a mosque. This followed a blast in Kabul's Taimani district in which a dozen people were said to be injured.

    Mr Pir Mohammed was regarded as an ally of the British at a time when UK policy in the country is coming under strong criticism from President Karzai and senior Afghan officials.

    Mr Miliband said the death was "a horrific reminder of the difficulties we face in Afghanistan". He added: "The sheer scale of the task is enormous and we will only succeed if we have better co-ordination between the international community and the Afghan government."

    How you can save Pervez

    The Independent campaign to save Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has already attracted 13,500 signatures. But the more pressure that can be brought to bear on President Karzai, the more likely it is that his sentence will be revoked. So add your voice to the campaign by urging the Foreign Office to put all possible pressure on the Afghan government to spare his life. Sign our e-petition at www.independent.co.uk/petition

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    Default Journalist On Death Row Gives First Interview

    A 23-year-old Afghan journalism student -- sentenced to death for printing and handing out an Internet article that questioned interpretations of the role of women in Islam -- says he was not allowed to have a lawyer nor to speak in his own defense during his four-minute trial.

    Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh made the remarks from prison in Mazar-e Sharif in an interview with the British daily "The Independent" on February 25 -- his first interview since being jailed four months ago.



    Kambakhsh told the newspaper that local judges in the northern province of Balkh had already decided the case before the trial had begun.

    Kambakhsh told "The Independent: "The way [the judges] talked to me, looked at me, was the way they look at a condemned man. I wanted to say: 'This is wrong. Please listen to me.' But I was not given a chance to explain."

    Balk Province Attorney-General Qazi Hafizullah Khaliqyar denies the claims by Kambakhsh that he did not receive a fair trial, saying Afghan law is being followed and that the journalism student had chosen not to have an attorney represent him in court.

    "Of course we didn't intend to violate any rights of journalists. The media law clearly prohibits insulting religious values and beliefs. [Journalists] can't violate the values of Islam and they have to keep that in mind," Khaliqyar says. Kambakhsh "has been referred to an Islamic court and would be dealt with according to Shari'a law. He has been asked if he wanted any lawyer, but he rejected the opportunity and preferred to defend himself."

    Local judges in the case ruled that the article published by Kambakhsh was blasphemous because it questioned some basic tenets of Islam -- including those related to the role of women in an Islamic society.

    Kambakhsh says he did not write the article that led to the charges. Rather, he says he printed it out from the Internet and distributed it among his fellow students in order to stimulate debate about women's rights in Afghanistan.

    RFE/RL has confirmed that the author of the article is an Iranian expatriate who lives in Germany.

    The court informed Kambakhsh during his trial that other Afghan journalism students had accused him of writing the article. Kambakhsh says he was never told the names of those accusers nor given an opportunity to cross-examine them.

    One chief judge from northern Afghanistan also has said that Kambakhsh had confessed, and that only President Hamid Karzai can pardon him.

    Legal Debate

    Meanwhile, legal experts continue to debate the merits of the case.

    Abdullah Attaei, an Afghan expert in Shari'a law, says the question of whether Kambakhsh penned the article himself is a vital issue.

    "If the convicted person doesn't admit that he wrote the article, and if he denies being quoted, then no court can judge his faith [according to Islamic Shari'a law]. When he denies that he wrote the article, then no one has the right to arrest or investigate him or even to try to prove him guilty," Attaei says.

    Kambakhsh says he was entitled under the Afghan Constitution to have a laywer and to speak in his own defense. He says that if he is allowed to put over his point of view to an appeals court, the judges will see that he has done nothing wrong.

    He told "The Independent" that he was "totally shocked" by the death sentence. He also said he hopes his appeal will be heard by a court in Kabul because he thinks he has a better chance to get a fair trial in the Afghan capital.

    Kambakhsh says he has heard that President Karzai has taken an interest in the case. He says that even if the conviction is upheld, he hopes Karzai will issue a reprieve. But he says he does not know what kind of political pressure Karzai faces over the case.

    Outcry

    The death sentence has raised an outcry from international and Afghan media rights groups as well as the United Nations and several foreign governments.

    Karzai has suggested that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband are among the foreign officials who have raised the issue of a possible presidential reprieve.

    "Both the [U.S.] secretary of state and the [British] foreign secretary spoke to me about this. This is an issue that our judicial system is handling. But I can assure you that [in the end], justice will be done in the right way," Karzai says.

    But Kambakhsh's fate remains an issue of heated debate within Afghanistan, where some fundamentalists are still calling for his execution.

    A key ally of Karzai and head of the Afghan Senate, Sibghatullkah Mojeddeid, issued a statement supporting the death sentence against Kambakhsh. But that statement was withdrawn after domestic and international protests.

    (RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan and Radio Farda contributed to this report.)

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    Dat is mindless.............release da man !
    I am Freakin' Insecure Neurotically Emotional.


    I am FINE.

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    Tfs.... but don't post links...!!
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