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White House: Sudan and Israel to normalize relations

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Israel and Sudan are on course toward normalizing relations as part of a U.S.-brokered deal, the White House announced on Friday.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1319683876046934016

“President @realDonaldTrump has announced that Sudan and Israel have agreed to the normalization of relations,” tweeted Deputy Assistant to the president, Judd Deere, adding that this move is “another major step toward building peace in the Middle East with another nation joining the Abraham Accords”.

This move comes after the president removed Sudan from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism this week, and after the Arab nations of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates formally normalized their ties with the State of Israel last month in a U.S.-brokered deal.

Sudan and other predominantly Muslim countries have treated Israel hostilely for decades because of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This recent diplomatic shift in the Arab world toward reconciliation with Israel symbolizes a changing political dynamic in the Middle East, especially as many Arab nations grow increasingly antagonistic toward Iran.

The first Arab countries to recognize Israel were Egypt in 1979 and the U.S.-aligned Kingdom of Jordan in 1994, each under different circumstances.

Also historically significant is that the removal of Sudan from the state-sponsored terror blacklist marks the end of the authoritarian country’s international isolation. In 1993, the United States imposed sanctions on the landlocked North African nation for aiding terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as for sheltering Osama bin Laden, who led al-Qaeda at the time. Additionally, al-Qaeda and the group Egypt Islamic Jihad in 1998 bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, taking over 200 lives.

Countries placed on this State Department list are prohibited from receiving financial aid from international entities such as the International Monetary Fund, something which the economically impoverished country needs desperately.

Also related to this deal is that Sudan has to compensate American victims of terror attacks that it was involved in and their families in the amount of $355 million. President Trump said on Monday that he would remove Sudan from the terror list if it followed through on this, which it did on Tuesday. Trump then signed an executive order to take it off the list.

Congress has 45 days to rubber-stamp this action, however.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1318251010595303424

Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, thanked the U.S. president in a tweet for removing Sudan from the state sponsors of terrorism blacklist.

“Thanks to President @realdonaldtrump for signing today the executive order to remove Sudan from #SSTL,” he wrote. “We’re working closely with the US Administration & Congress to conclude the SSTL removal process in a timely manner. We work towards int’l relations that best serve our people.”

There are reports, according to The Times of Israel and Reuters, that a deal may be announced late on Friday.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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China

REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent

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China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.

But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”

The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients.  According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”

Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.

The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.

Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.

The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”

Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.

Conclusion

According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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