I read two news items related to Jordan today. Both have negative vibes — one particularly so– making me still more skeptical of any reform prospects in my native land. The first thing that caught my eye was this:
Syrian film director banned from visiting Jordan
Film director Omar Amiralay, whose trenchant documentaries on life and government in Syria earned him praise abroad, has briefly been arrested by Syrian authorities at the Jordanian border and barred from leaving the country, a leading human rights activist said. Ammar al-Qorabi, president of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, said Amiralay was heading to Jordan on Monday to work on his new film — the reason for his repeated visits to the neighboring country. After several hours, the authorities released the filmmaker and rights activist but banned him from visiting Jordan, said Qorabi.
Source: [Yahoo News]
It is not clear why this director was banned from visiting Jordan. If this piece of news proves accurate then some explanation is due from one side or the other. Was it a Syrian decision? Or was he black-listed in Jordan? I wonder. The details are unclear but hopefully it will be resolved. The second bit of news was this:
Human Rights Watch accuses Jordan of torture at central detention
A New York-based human rights group Tuesday accused Jordan’s security services of carrying out frequent arbitrary arrests and torturing detainees. Human Rights Watch also alleged that many suspects were held in solitary confinement without being charged before they were eventually released. The group urged U.S. President George W. Bush and members of the U.S. Congress to take up the matter with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the head of the main detention facility, Maj. Gen. Muhammad al-Dhahabi, who are currently visiting the United States.
Source: [International Herald Tribune]
These torture allegations have been tainting Jordan’s reputation for quite some time. We all know the drill by now: first the accusation, then the denial. The truth lies somewhere in between. My take: For the sake of humanity, torture must be put to an end no matter where it occurs or what the reason.
Update: Reading the film director banning story one more time, I’m inclined to believe that it was a Syrian decision. Maybe this story is not as Jordan-centric as I thought. I hope so.
Carol when you say that “If we donâ€™t have vigilant authorities, weâ€™ll be next.” but there is a serious flaw in your argument. the fact is by its actions, the jordanian government has brough instabilty to Jordan. Fact is, Jordan has become a torture-for-cash hub for the CIA. Jordan has been targeted NOT because we have any strategic significance, we have been targeted because we have accepted to do America’s dirty work. Lets get our cause and effect stright. The US, Israel, and their puppets have used the backlash against their bloody wars in the region as justification for more repression.
Report says “Perhaps unsurprisingly therefore, Jordan seems to have become a central hub in the global complex of secret detention centres operated in coordination with foreign intelligence agencies as part of the â€œwar on terrorâ€. At least 10 of the individuals tortured or otherwise ill-treated appear to be victims of the US-led “renditionâ€ programme. ”
“Wilcke said his group recognizes the dangers Jordan faces from terrorism and its need for an effective intelligence service, especially considering last November’s triple hotel suicide blasts that killed 63 people, including three Iraqi bombers.”
This sentence in particular attracted my attention. So they know that Jordan is in a predicament. All its neighboring countries are in a state of war. It is a ticking bomb. If we donâ€™t have vigilant authorities, weâ€™ll be next. And I donâ€™t personally believe that our authorities are that naÃ¯ve and simple to arrest people â€œarbitraryâ€. By that it is meant that they may arrest any person walking in the street or having a picnic with his family. Certainly the authorities have their own sources which without Jordan now would have been in a big mess. And about using torture, well I really want to understand what is the correct way of questioning these people. Asking them politely if they were plotting to kill more innocent people with a variation this time by making implanting bombs in their own kids. I know maybe a lot of people wonâ€™t agree with me thinking about the people who are really innocent and were mistakenly taken into custody, but again whatâ€™s the percentage.
I think Al-Rai’s editors provide the best rebuttal for the HRW’s report on Jordan.
Or do they?
I do not understand how the first article bares a negative tone regarding Jordan, it clearly states that he was arrested in Syria, by Syrians.
Regarding the second one, the report is only touching the tip of an ice-berg, according to the HRW themselves.
I think Jordan is coming under increasing scrutiny because we are being increasingly seen as a country that wants to be western, liberal, and progressive. This is good news. I prefer to see Jordan and Palestine being held to tough standards, painful as it may be for our ego as we discover how repressive or backward our governments can be, elected or otherwise. Fact is, such scrutiny will ensure that we live up to our commitment to liberal values in words and in action. I would have prefered intrnal checks and balanaces, without such scandles. but absent the internal will (so much for all of you half-ass liberals who fill your blogs with trash) i am ok with external pressure until we start to live up to our articulated values, which continue to lack any substance. Fact is, those in control have mastered the art of the doubletalk: speak like a true liberal and shed a few tears and screw the poor and torture the weak. This must come to an end.
We got our own John Mccaines but not many people trust them. When it comes from a any source outside Jordan especially a non-Arab one people start believing them.
I wonder what do they mean by torture. Does sleep deprivation count as torture? Do Jordanians themselves approve torture in questionning criminals. According to what the Human Rights Watch considers tortre, 80% of Jordanian homes experience torture!
Natasha, great post! Great to see someone post news that average Jordanians can’t find reading local or regional newspapers. Keep up the good work…
Thanks Ziad for pointing this out. I just re-read it. I think you are right. It seems to be a Syrian decision.
Regarding the first news story: The SYRIAN authorities arrested him and prevented him from visiting Jordan (on their side of the border). Jordan has no control over this!