The normal sounds of an outward-bound airliner and of the friendly flight attendants welcoming you aboard providing safety instructions, length of flights, temperatures and more. A far cry from some highly-condemned flights these days. Criss-crossing not only this continent sometimes from secret destinations in Eastern Europe or in the Middle East or back and forth to the notorious Guantanamo prison camp at the American military base on Cuba.
International human rights organizations and a European Union report have sharply criticized these secret flights – fetching and delivering prisoners to jails where torture is expected to be a standard part of interrogation – and where these flights move human traffic from one place to another in what can be years-long detention without trial or where evidence against the suspects is never produced. The accusations against the CIA and other intelligence services using these covert air flights often make big headlines and then fade quickly away.
‘My name is Dia Anfeldt … Linda Isaksson.’
You’re wearing yellow shirts with “Air Torture” logos on them.
‘This is a campaign with Amnesty. We are campaigning against the torture in the world and the so-called renditions. They are taking people and transporting them to other countries known for their treatment against the prisoners.’
Alleged terrorists, people who are accused but sometimes without evidence.
‘Exactly. That’s just it and the campaign is against that because we want to protest against the unethical treatment of these people because there is no proof and that’s why we are standing here today.’
What kind of petitions are you making?
How long have you been working with Amnesty International?
‘Not for a very long time. I’m quite new but I think it’s a lot of fun and I think we can make a difference.’
What’s your next project?
‘Well, my friends and I are from a school group, we’re going to make a campaign in our school and inform our classmates and we’re going to have a table in the entrance with some papers and maybe meet new people and inform them about our work with Amnesty and what we are doing.’
Do you think they will laugh and say “Oh, silly!” or will they say, “Oh what a good idea!”?
‘Well I hope they will say, “oh what a good idea!”’
What’s your plan, what will you do in the future?
‘Pretty much the same. I want to continue in Amnesty with our campaigns. But mostly, I don’t know at all what I’m going to do with my life.’
How old are you?
‘Seventeen. Me too. Seventeen.’
Swedish government officials have been repeatedly blasted for permitting CIA agents to land their hired plane here in Stockholm and remove 2 Egyptian refugees from Swedish territory - stripping them, drugging them and roughing them up on board the plane in front of uncritical Swedish military – and delivering the men to Cairo – where they claim they were tortured in the Egyptian prison. Despite protests from Amnesty and others, one of the men released from his Cairo jail with no charges against him has been denied permission to return to Sweden by the present government here. A Swede finally released from the Guantanamo prison with no charges ever presented against him has lost his attempt to get compensation for the years of detention on the island.Listen to the report:
Spain’s abortion law is coming under close scrutiny where the government says it is prepared to consider changing the legislation if it can achieve a wide political and social consensus. The announcement follows women from a feminist collective reporting themselves to police for illegal abortions, in order to draw attention to the what they see as the failings of the law. Private abortion clinics have also been on a week long strike to protest against a law they say doesn’t protect medical practitioners or the woman who have abortions. The strike was a response to a recent series of police raids on abortion clinics accused of carrying out illegal terminations. From Madrid, Deutsche Welle’s Danny Wood reports…
Staying with the issue of national identity now, but from a rather different angle... The Second World War is high on the agenda again in Germany. But this time not because of German war crimes, but instead because of German war victims: the millions of Germans that were expelled from territories the country lost to Poland and Russia. The German government wants to erect a "visible sign", or a permanent exhibition, describing their fate. The proposal has sparked a fierce debate with neighboring Poland. Radio Netherlands Worldwide correspondent Laurens Boven spoke with Hertha Mahlow, an elderly woman from Berlin who experienced the expulsion as a young woman.
And we haven’t finished with the war yet… Not for the first time in recent memory there’s controversy in Poland on a World War II issue. Two books on Polish-Jewish relations after the war have just been published, both by Polish-born historians living in the United States. Michal Kubicki of Polish Radio’s External Service looks at why the books are set to provoke heated debate on one of the most complex chapters in Poland’s modern history.
After becoming the first French president to divorce during his time in office, Nicholas Sarkozy looks set to become the first to marry as well. He certainly is keen to keep himself busy. This week he described his relationship with Carla Bruni as ”serious” and hinted that a wedding, perhaps in secret, could be expected soon. Our Paris correspondent John Laurenson says if Carla Bruni becomes Carla Sarkozy it would revolutionise the role of France’s first lady and mark a victory for a certain sort of women’s lib’.
We stay in France for some more serious news: last Wednesday The French oil company Total was ordered to pay it's a share of nearly 200 million in damages for a 1999 oil spill off the northwest coast of France. The Erika oil tanker broke in half in December of 1999, spilling almost 20-thousand tons of crude oil into the sea—which killed hundreds of thousands of birds along 400 kilometers of coastline. Radio France International's Sarah Elzas was at the courtroom in Paris for the verdict.
And before we sign off: do take part in this months quiz. This month, we're looking for the name of a French composer whose birth 100 years ago is being celebrated in 2008. "He was organist in the church 'La Trinite' in Paris. He composed a lot of pieces, too, for organ. And I think it's the more important composers in terms of organ in the 20th century". So who is this man? We already know he's a composer who had synethesia- a condition where a person literally hears colors. He's also a very religious man. If you know the answer, send it to contact at networkeurope dot org. Include your name and where you listen to Network Europe.
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