Tuesday, January 31, 2017

International misconceptions about Africa and South Africa in particular

International misconceptions about Africa and South Africa in particular

The media industry’s practice of consistently committing journalistic misconduct is deeply troubling

Stes de Necker

I have met many people from all over the world and I’m still meeting more people every day.  

The one thing that has always fascinated me is that whenever you tell someone you’re from South Africa, in so many cases their initial response is, “Whaat..!    Africa ...?” 

Most western perception of South Africa and Africa in general, is that of a continent ravaged by disease, savagery, animism, pestilence, war, famine, despotism, primitivism, poverty, and ubiquitous images of children, flies in their food and faces, their stomachs distended.

The life ways of approximately 700 million peoples in fifty-four countries representing, for non-Africans, unimaginable multicultural, poly-ethnic, poly-religious, multi-political, and mega-economic groups are perpetually denigrated.

Western News Media employ a myriad of malicious practices to dump negative news materials and information when reporting, communicating, or disseminating anything concerning Africa.
These "universal" but powerfully subliminal message units, beamed to global television audiences, connote something not good, perennially problematic unworthiness, deplorability, black, foreboding, loathing, sub humanity, etc.

Little is said about Africa's strategic importance to the so called industrialized nations; her indispensability and relevance to world development, global technology, and the wealth of nations, derived from involuntary African largesse.  Without access to certain raw materials from Africa, Western industrial capacity would wither much like raisins in the sun.

Western Media treat the African continent as a malignant appendage rather than as an integral, systemic part of the earth and all its natural functions in accordance with universal laws. Its indigenous populations are depicted as without value. One needs surgical removal while the other should quietly accept his biblical destiny: the curse of Ham.

Western Media moguls, who can find only the negative when Africa is the subject, create Africa's world image almost entirely to serve their capitalistic greed while simultaneously denigrating the continent's global image. It is an image again that is put on Africa and more specific South Africa by outsiders, primarily Europeans, whose abiding motivation is profit.

Africa's negative and contrived image, promoted in the Western Media, pervades the psyche, pre-empts behaviours, infers worthlessness, disregards African humanity and hospitality and devalues the mind, while it attenuates human spirituality and connectivity: key ingredients in equitable planetary wealth sharing.

How do the media justify perpetrating disparities, circumvention of objectivity, and sometimes questionable journalistic and professional ethics in reporting critical newsworthy African events for domestic and global consumption.

The media industry’s practice of consistently committing journalistic misconduct is deeply troubling. Continual portrayals of Africa and in particular South Africa, in a bad light only perpetuates ignorance in a world much closer in proximity than ever before a media industry that thrives on the negative.

In almost all areas, plants, animals, birds, people, language, climate, minerals, South Africa remains the country with the world's richest and largest diversities in these areas.
When one looks at Southern Africa, which include the areas Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana, there is no other country in the world where you can, within an area of ​​approximately 2.5 million. Km² find 18500 different plant species, 750 types of Butterflies, 336 mammal species, 800 different bird species, and more than 60 types of minerals.

According to the international classification of the world's six major floral kingdoms, South Africa's “fynbos” region, an area that stretches from the Olifants River 250 km. Northwest of Cape Town to Port Elizabeth on the east coast, is the smallest of the six regions. Although the smallest, this region has 8500 different plant species of which 73% can be found nowhere else in the world. Table Mountain alone has more plant species than can be found in the whole of Britain. Compared to South Africa's 750 Butterfly species, only 75 species can be found in the whole of England. Compared to the total of 125 kinds of land animals found in Western Europe, South Africa has no less than 240 different kinds of mammals. No less than 29 different antelope species can be found in South Africa.

Add to this, 11 different indigenous peoples, 3 million Hectares natural reserves and a shoreline where already 65 types of the world’s Whales and dolphins species have been spotted, then it is understandable why many foreign visitors have expressed the view that South Africa has the potential to become the economic wonder of the western world.

As for as gold and diamonds are concerned, South Africa accounts for 80% of the world's gold production while the bulk of the world's diamonds currently come from South Africa. More than 60 minerals are mined in South Africa, while about 90% of the world's vanadium, 89% of the platinum metal group, 84% of the chrome ore, 93% of manganese and 64% of the gold reserves, are concentrated in South Africa. Coal provides 80% of the country's energy needs while great progress has already been made in the area of ​​additional nuclear power and wind power. Sasol currently supply more than 30% of the country's liquid petroleum needs while the agricultural sector still succeeds to feed approx. 45 mill. people daily.

South Africa’s major metropoles, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth/Utenhage, Durban/Pinetown, Johannesburg/Witwatersrand and Pretoria, are major economic centres buzzing with activity that can compete favourably with most Western centres in the world.

South Africa is the most advanced economy on the African continent, and has already established itself as the gateway to the rest of Africa for investors who want to invest in Africa.

Unfortunately there currently exists a culture that embraces a variety of ills, most of which are aimed at the erosion of our constitutional democracy and the maintenance of an unscrupulous and incompetent group of politicians in their fortified palaces, wood-panelled offices and luxury limousines.

Like any other country in the world, South Africa too has its fair share of problems. But nothing remotely as deleterious as portrayed by the world news media. South Africa can, and will, solve its own problems. Without the hypocritical help of the west. 

Fortunately however, the vast majority of citizens of this country are learning fast that political survival and economic prosperity cannot be created by plundering accumulated reserves. Economic prosperity can only be achieved by innovative thinking, sound economic principles, hard work and strict personal earnings. 

                                                                      Cape Town

Port Elizabeth




Monday, January 30, 2017

IRAN – A GODLESS CLERICAL REGIME GONE ROGUE Electrocution, rape and drug-induced confessions


Electrocution, rape and drug-induced confessions

Farzad Madadzadeh a former political prisoner reveals the reality of brutal torture and hangings in Iran's most notorious jail after his escape to Europe

Stes de Necker

The 30-year-old Farzad Madadzadeh, speaking out after escaping from Iran.   

Blindfolded with his hands in cuffs, he would be beaten for up to 16 hours a day in an Iranian prison.

He was electrocuted and punched by three guards who threw him around like a 'football', before returning him to a tiny 1.5m by 2m solitary confinement cell.

Each night for five years he would fall asleep wondering if death would come for him in the morning, or whether yet another day of torture and questioning was in store.

His only crime?

Speaking out against Iran's regime.

'You are subjected to all kinds of torture - psychological and physical. Constant interrogation, constant beating around the clock.’

'Any moment you wait for something to happen - a new torture session or a death sentence.
'You are totally isolated from the rest of the world. The only voice you hear is the voice of death.'

He claims guards would bring drugs including heroin into the prison to encourage addiction, making it easier for interrogators to 'crack' prisoners suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

Last year, the country had the second highest number of executions in the world after China and also killed the most juvenile offenders, according to Human Rights Watch.

And it remains one of the biggest jailers of bloggers, journalists and social media activists.

Farzad, born in Jolfa in north-west Iran, became a political activist after watching an illegal television channel run by the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran - an opposition movement that advocates the overthrowing of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

He and others like him created an opposition cell and distributed leaflets, put up banners, took part in protests and helped mobilise young people. Farzad would scrawl anti-regime graffiti on walls and collect information for the resistance - all the while protesting without violence.

He was arrested in February 2009 and sentenced to five years in prison for supporting the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran - delisted as a terrorist group by the United States in 2012 and by the EU in 2009.

This was shortly before the 2009 uprising when a mass demonstration erupted in the country as a result of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning the presidential election - which many believed was rigged. They were the biggest protests the country had seen since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Farzad was first taken to Evin Prison - Iran's most notorious jail.

'I spent 10 months in ward 209, which is controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence,' he explained. 'It is the most vicious ward in the whole of Iran.

'I was immediately blindfolded. The interrogations started - from 8am to 11pm or midnight.
'If you said things they didn't like to hear or you did not conform, the beating began. They hit you very hard, as hard as they could.

'You were transferred to your own solitary confinement at midnight. The next day it continued.'
It was of one Farzad's interrogators who informed him his sentence was five years. To his knowledge there had been no trial.

He was kept in a 1.5m by 2m solitary confinement cell for six months - but was allowed a visit from his relatives four months into his jail term.

'When my mother and my father and sister came to visit me they asked me, 'where is our son?' They didn't recognise me because I had been so badly beaten. They would torture with electric shock batons and a lot of people were burnt with cigarette lighters on their back. Somebody was beaten so hard on the ear that he went deaf. I have some hearing problems myself because of all the beating on my ear. No real doctor was allowed to come in and treat us. 'They tortured the prisoners to death by depriving them of any medical treatment.'

Two of his friends, political prisoners who had taken part in the uprising, were sentenced to execution. The men told him the interrogators pulled out their fingernails.

One suffered a broken back during interrogation and did not receive medical treatment, another was raped by a male guard - prompting him to make false confessions, he said.

Farzan's interrogation continued for three or four months, although he cannot be sure of exactly how much time passed. He was constantly questioned about his opposition organisation and early on was asked to speak out publicly against it.

'The worst thing about prison is that they take your best friends and hang them,' he added. 'You can’t imagine how it feels to lay down at night and in the morning you wake up and you see your best friend is hanged.

'The people who were so intimate to you and their only crime was believing in democracy.’ Many of his friends and family went to Camp Ashraf, the camp in Iraq that was home to the headquarters of the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran and where Farzan's brother and sister were killed in April 2011.

Iraqi security forces stormed the camp and it is thought as many as 36 people were killed - a figure disputed by Iraqi officials.

'They were totally defenceless and were overrun by tanks and heavy weaponry,' he said.
At the time, Farzad was at Gohardasht Prison, near Tehran, where his fellow inmates included 13 and 14-year-olds who had been involved in 'accidental' killings and were waiting to be hanged when they turned 18.

It was here that he witnessed drugs - heroin, crack and crystal meth - being brought into the prison.
The Ministry of Intelligence and the guards themselves, they deliberately distributed drugs in prisons to make the prisoners addicted. When they get addicted they can be forced to do anything they want. They give up the idea of resisting.

If you have 30g of this kind of drugs on the streets you are sentenced to death. 
Despite the threat of beatings, he continued his activist work from behind bars until his release.
Asked why, he explains: 'Silence is treason. If I had become silent, it would have been the most despicable thing I could have done.'

On the day he was due to be released in February 2014, Farzad's excited family waited outside the prison for 10 hours in the bitter cold. He said he was kept for two extra days out of spite.

It is believed there are still hundreds of political prisoners being kept in the country's prisons.

According to a report produced by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center earlier this year, evidence shows the prisons suffer from extreme overcrowding, poor hygiene and water quality, inadequate medical facilities, violence targeting political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and chronic abuse of inmates by the authorities.

Farzad was not allowed to leave Iran, but fled the country secretly and fled to Europe. Many of his relatives remain in the country and he is reluctant to discuss them in fear they could face repercussions.

'Sometimes in the middle of the night I wake up in fear of being arrested,' he said. 'I know its not real but this feeling comes back

'I know these memories and these feelings won't go away. That will only go away when the regime is overthrown.'

Farzad is one of the many willing to speak out so they can be a voice to the voiceless - those who have died and others oppressed by the regime.

Thursday, January 26, 2017




Stes de Necker

Iran’s staggering execution toll paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale.

Capital punishment in Iran is legal. Crimes punishable by death include murder, rape, child molestation, sodomy, drug trafficking, armed robbery, kidnapping, terrorism and treason.
Each year Amnesty International reports both the number of officially acknowledged executions in Iran and the number of executions the organization has been able to confirm took place, but which were not officially acknowledged. When calculating the annual global total number of executions Amnesty International has, to date, only counted executions officially acknowledged by the Iranian authorities.


 According to Amnesty International, there were 676 executions in Iran in 2011, 753 (of which 14 women and 13 juveniles) in 2014 and 694 in the first half of 2015.

According to Iranian public sources however, 252 executions (of which 5 women and 1 juvenile) were carried out in 2011, 289 in 2014 and 246 in the first half of 2015. Up to 74% were drug related, and almost all executions were carried out for murder, aggravated rape, deadly robbery/kidnapping, or large scale drug trafficking. (In 2014, the Iranian authorities reported that 289 people were executed according to official sources, but credible reports suggested that the real figure was at least 743.)

In March 2016, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran said in a report to the organization's Human Rights Council that at least 966 people were put to death in the country in 2015, roughly double the number executed in 2010 and 10 times as many as were executed in 2005. The report noted that executions in Iran were at the highest level since 1989.

Among those executed in Iran are also members of ethnic and religious minorities convicted of “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth” including Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims.

Currently, based on monitoring work done by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, several thousand people are believed to be on death row in Iran. The Iranian authorities have said that 80% of those awaiting execution are convicted of drug-related offences. They have not, however, provided an exact number.

It is especially harrowing that there is no end in sight for this theatre of cruelty with Iran’s gallows awaiting thousands more death row prisoners.   
The surge in executions reveals just how out of step Iran is with the rest of the world when it comes to the use of the death penalty - 140 countries worldwide have now rejected its use in law or practice. Already this year three more countries have repealed the death penalty completely. 

Executions in Iran did not even stop during the holy month of Ramadan. In a departure from established practice, at least four people were executed during Ramadan in 2016. 
While Amnesty International opposes the use of the death penalty unconditionally and in all cases, death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality. They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or acts that should not be criminalized at all, let alone attract the death penalty. Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers in the investigative stage, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation.
The Iranian authorities should be ashamed of executing hundreds of people with complete disregard for the basic safeguards of due process. 

The use of the death penalty is always abhorrent, but it raises additional concerns in a country like Iran where trials are blatantly unfair.

Iranians are the victims of a state of hunger, poverty and misery, hurled down into the hollows of perdition by force and without their will.

Prisoners in Iran are often left languishing on death row, wondering each day if it will be their last. In many cases they are notified of their execution only a few hours beforehand and in some cases, families learn about the fate of their loved ones days, if not weeks, later.

As of 15 July 2015, the Iranian authorities had officially acknowledged 246 executions this year but Amnesty International has received credible reports of a further 448 executions carried out in this time period.

It is time the world unites to put to an end this travesty of justice and do everything in its power to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

Friday, January 13, 2017




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