Daily Archives: July 12, 2017

UAE Implicated in Torture at Yemeni Black Sites

In late June, The Associated Press (AP) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has established a web 18 “black site” prisons in Yemen. Hidden in military bases, air and seaports, and private villas, these secret detention facilities have been host to a variety of human rights abuses, such as arbitrary detention and torture.

According to HRW, Emirati forces and local Yemeni groups backed by the UAE have forcibly disappeared dozens of individuals to these secret detention facilities on suspicions of affiliation with extremist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Yemen’s branch of the Islamic State (IS-Y).

HRW documented 49 cases of arbitrary detention and/or forced disappearance over the past year in the Yemeni governorates of Aden and Hadramawt, including four children. At least 39 of these cases were detained by UAE-backed personnel. The prisoners are mostly held incommunicado.

The AP and HRW reports indicate that interrogators at these black sites regularly subject detainees to torture. Six former inmates corroborated that dozens of the detainees were crammed into a three-by-ten shipping container, left blindfolded, and bound by their hands and feet for months at a time. Detainees feared one particular interrogator, known only as “the Doctor, for his especially brutal techniques, such as hanging weights from detainees’ genitals and pulling on them. The detainees believe that “the Doctor” was Emirati. At the detention center located in the Riyan airport, security personnel subjected another detainee to a fake execution, in which he was told while blindfolded that they had strapped an explosive suicide belt to him, and then set off a sound grenade nearby.

The most infamous method of torture employed in these detention centers is called “the grill.” Interrogators strap detainees horizontally to a metal pole and spin them like a roast in a circle of fire. They spun one prisoner so fast that he vomited blood.

All forms of torture, including the methods listed above, are prohibited under the United Nations Convention against Torture (CAT), to which the UAE acceded to in July 2012.

Nevertheless, the Emirati government has a record of torturing domestic prisoners as well as individuals detained in Yemen. For example, in August 2015, Emirati authorities arbitrarily detained and forcefully disappeared prominent academic and economist, Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith. They reportedly beat bin Ghaith and deprived him of sleep for a week.

In addition to documenting UAE officials committing the acts of torture, the AP and HRW reports also raise concern about the potential involvement of the United States (US). Officials from the Department of Defense (DOD) have admitted that US personnel have interrogated detainees in Yemen as part of counterterror operations, but they deny all allegations of being complicit in torture. In fact, the DOD denied that US personnel even knew about human rights violations occurring in the UAE-linked detention centers. One Yemeni employee at the Riyan airport reiterated that when American personnel were present, no abuses occurred against prisoners.

However, Cori Crider, a lawyer and member of human rights organization, Reprieve, refuted these claims in an article published on 25 June 2017 in The Atlantic. Crider visited one of the UAE-linked detention centers in Yemen in 2010 at the request of an American detainee’s family. Crider was reportedly only permitted to visit the site, called “Political Security,” and see the detainee due to his status as an American citizen. He told her that US personnel had verbally abused him, claiming that they promised him that he would be raped in a Yemeni jail and that his wife and daughter would face a similar fate. When the citizen asked two American interrogators about his constitutional rights, one of them responded by saying, “there is no Constitution here, son.”

US politicians have also voiced concern that American personnel have contributed to human rights violations in these Yemeni detention centers. On the same day that the AP report was released, US senators John McCain and Jack Reed, both veterans, wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis asking for a review of the allegations and procedures of US personnel serving in counterterror operations in Yemen. They wrote, “Even the suggestion that the United States tolerates torture by our foreign partners compromises our national security mission by undermining the moral principle that distinguishes us from our enemies— our belief that all people possess basic human rights.” The United States is a signatory to the CAT, meaning that if the allegations were true, the US would be acting in violation of the international treaty.

Following the reports, victims of torture in UAE stepped forward to share their experiences, such as David Haigh. Emirati police detained Haigh on two separate occasions, torturing him and denying him access to healthcare and legal assistance. Activists in Yemen have also orchestrated a Twitter campaign calling on individuals to expose the torture by providing further evidence. In the wake of the reports, local authorities in Hadramawt allegedly released 21 people accused of being members of Al Qaeda, claiming that, “[those released] are not dangerou elements.”

The human rights violations occurring in Yemen must be brought to an end. It is crucial that UAE-backed forces immediately halt the practices of arbitrary detention and forced disappearance. The UAE-run black site prisons must be shut down immediately and all illegally held prisoners released and adequately compensated.

Additionally, the US must terminate any operation with foreign security forces involved in the use of torture and consider suspending all security assistance to countries implicated in such human rights abuses.

Alex DiBell is an Advocacy Intern with ADHRB.

Saudi Arabia Executes Four Protesters

On 11 July, the Government of Saudi Arabia executed four men from the Eastern Province because of their participation in protests. According to the Saudi Ministry of the Interior, the men, Yusuf al-Msheikhass, Amjad al-Muaybed, Zuhair al-Basri, and Mahdi al-Sayegh, were guilty of a number of terrorism-related crimes. However, according to human rights organizations Amnesty International and the European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR), Saudi authorities tortured at least three of the men into confessing to committing these crimes. The men were sentenced to death and executed on the basis of their coerced confessions and their execution comes one day after Saudi Arabia executed six men. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) condemns the executions in the strongest terms

Yusuf al-Msheikhass is the brother of Ahmed al-Msheikhass, a Saudi human rights defender. Saudi authorities arrested Yusuf al-Msheikhass on 26 February 2014 after he took part in protests in the kingdom’s Eastern Province. While in detention, authorities tortured al-Msheikhass, depriving him of sleep, hanging him from the ceiling and beating him with a bamboo cane and electrical cable until he signed a confession. The government finally tried al-Msheikhass on 26 June 2015 in the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), Saudi Arabia’s notorious counter-terror court that is noted for admitting confessions obtained under torture. During his trial al-Msheikhass told the judge that officials had tortured him, but the court refused to fully investigate his claims. On 6 January 2016, the SCC sentenced him to death.

Saudi security forces dressed in civilian clothing forcibly disappeared Amjad al-Muaybed on 17 June 2013. Officials held al-Muaybed in solitary confinement and tortured him, beating and electrocuting him until he signed a confession. When officials allowed al-Muaybed’s family to visit him they noticed that al-Muaybed had been tortured and had lost a lot of weight. Saudi officials brought al-Muaybed in front of the SCC in January 2014, eight months after his arrest. Among his numerous charges were terrorism-related charges, such as being affiliated with a terrorist organization, participating in riots, and disobeying the King, as al-Muaybed had participated in the protests in Qatif in February 2011. Because al-Muaybed had confessed to the charges under torture, the court found him guilty, and on 9 December 2015 sentenced him to death. His sentence was approved by the High Supreme Court on 16 March 2016.

Authorities arrested Zuhair al-Basri on 20 June 2013 after he was admitted to the hospital for surgery on his leg. However, officials prevented him from receiving treatment and detained him in solitary confinement for 14 days. Authorities tortured him, including by beating him on his injured leg, until he confessed to a number of crimes, including participating in rallies, and throwing Molotov cocktails. According to a statement by the Ministry of the Interior, Mahdi al-Sayegh also faced charges that included participating in marches and throwing Molotov cocktails.

All four men faced numerous charges that included protesting and participating in “riots” in the Eastern Province, as well as other terror-related charges such as attacking Saudi security forces. Under Saudi Arabia’s counter-terror law, participating in protests can be classified as “disrupting public order” under the Article 1 of the law. However, the law has come under criticism from human rights groups and UN Special Rapporteurs for its broad interpretation of terrorism. Equally concerning is the government’s use of torture to force the men to confess, and the SCC’s admittance of that evidence.

“The execution of these men is an appalling example of Saudi Arabia’s deeply flawed judicial system. The men were arrested solely in relation to their participation in protests as they were exercising their internationally-sanctioned right to freedom of assembly and association,” states Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “The charges put to them are entirely spurious and the result of coerced confessions extracted under severe torture. The admittance of their confessions as evidence demonstrates the deeply problematic nature of the Specialized Criminal Court, in which defendants are routinely denied their internationally-sanctioned due process rights.”

The execution comes one day after Saudi authorities executed six men, meaning the kingdom executed 10 men over two days. ADHRB is deeply concerned about this spike in executions, particularly concerning the four protesters who were tortured into confessing. ADHRB calls on Saudi Arabia to amend its counter-terror law so that protesting is not a crime. Saudi Arabia must also immediately implement a moratorium on the death penalty and release all political prisoners.

Accela Expands International Operations, Opens Center of Excellence in Amman, Jordan

Center to leverage region’s advanced digital infrastructure to provide technology solutions and professional services to government customers worldwide

SAN RAMON, California, July 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Accela, the leading provider of cloud-based productivity and civic engagement solutions for government, today announced the launch of its first international Center of Excellence in Amman, Jordan, demonstrating the company’s commitment to its strategic partnerships with both the World Bank and the Kingdom of Jordan. The site was selected for its advanced digital infrastructure and the caliber of its highly qualified workforce, and opened with 25 trained employees.

Accela Logo

“Accela is committed to enhancing government-citizen interaction and streamlining processes for government agencies around the world,” said Ed Daihl, Chief Executive Officer at Accela. “The launch of our new Center of Excellence in Amman is a significant step that reflects mutual interest in developing government technology globally, and we look forward to nurturing strategic partnerships with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.”

In the last few years, Accela’s operations in the Middle East have increased significantly, fostering a number of strategic partnerships with government entities to help improve services to citizens and residents across the region. The Company recently announced that Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport (DMAT) went live with the Municipal Electronic Permitting System (MePS) on the Accela Civic Platform to manage all building permits processes across 98 different services for building permits within three municipalities and connected to 25 governmental entities.

The opening of Accela’s Center of Excellence was celebrated in a private ceremony attended by Ed Daihl, Accela’s CEO, Mr. Khaled Jaouni, Accela’s EMEA Managing Director and executives from Amman’s leading technology companies and government agencies.

“Accela’s selection of Amman as the location for the Center of Excellence demonstrates Jordan’s integral role in technology and the movement towards digital government,” said Khaled W. Jaouni, Managing Director of Accela International. “We greatly appreciate the support of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in helping us smoothly and swiftly launch this facility.”

About Accela
Accela provides a platform of cloud-based productivity and civic engagement software to governments of all sizes worldwide. The Accela Civic Platform includes cost-effective solutions to manage critical enterprise functions and mobile apps to foster greater citizen engagement. From asset, land and legislative management to licensing, finance, environmental health and more, Accela’s software drives efficiency for more than 2,000 governments worldwide. More than 80% of America’s 50 largest cities have implemented at least one of Accela’s many solutions. In 2017, the Company was named to Government Technology’s GovTech100 for the second straight year and listed as a Top 50 Private Company in the East Bay by SF Business Times. Accela is headquartered in San Ramon, California, with offices in New York, Portland, Salt Lake City, Melbourne and Amman. For more information, visit www.accela.com.

Media Contacts:

Valerie Pressley
Accela
(925) 659-3200
vpressley@accela.com

Logo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/275174/accela_logo.jpg

Victor Edozien Named to the Michigan Chronicle’s “Men of Excellence” for 2017

WARREN, Michigan, July 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Victor Edozien, CEO and President of SET Enterprises, Inc. (an Asaba Group Holdings Company) has been selected by the Michigan Chronicle to its 2017 and 10th anniversary class of “Men of Excellence.” This the 10th year that the publication has celebrated African-American men who inspire others through vision, leadership, exceptional achievements, and participation in community service.https://prnewswire2-a.akamaihd.net/p/1893751/sp/189375100/thumbnail/entry_id/1_24m3cz00/def_height/400/def_width/400/version/100011/type/1

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/534696/SET_Enterprises_Inc_2017_Men_of_Excellence_Award.jpg

Mr. Edozien was chosen from among 400 nominations, based on his success as an entrepreneur, business executive, and SET Enterprises corporate social responsibility initiatives and community involvement. The Men of Excellence awards took place on June 30, 2017 at the Motor City Casino in Detroit, MI.

“I am beyond honored to receive this recognition,” said Victor Edozien.  Accolades may come my way but when such recognition comes from our own community it is inestimable. I am humbled and appreciative in ways words cannot adequately express. This recognition from the Michigan Chronicle, a leading African American newspaper, and being inducted into a group with many individuals that I have admired and respected their professional and civic accomplishments is quite awe-inspiring. I am thrilled to be part of this group – The Men of Excellence.”

For a decade, the Michigan Chronicle has celebrated African American men who inspire others through professional accomplishments and dedication to improving life in the community. Honorees were chosen from over 400 hundred of nominations and join an elite group influential African American men. “These distinguished men not only have professional success to their credit, but they are beacons for the African American community through-out the region,” said Hiram Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media and publisher of Michigan Chronicle.

Community involvement and corporate social responsibility is a core value among the Asaba Group companies. SET Enterprises is actively involved with advocacy and supports community organizations like Real Life 101 Scholarship Fund, Rhonda Walker Foundation, Athletes Unlimited and Winning Futures. Cintron World, an Asaba Group company, is demonstrating its commitment to the eradication of breast cancer in communities of color by holding in July 2018 the first USA Cintron Pink Polo event in Detroit. This event will raise funds and increase awareness for breast cancer detection and treatment.

About Victor Edozien
Victor Edozien is the President and CEO of SET Enterprises, Inc. and the Founder/Managing Principal of The Asaba Group, Inc. – a private equity holding company (www.asabagroupholdings.com). He has been in principal investing since 2004 primarily in manufacturing and consumer goods sectors. He is a board member of Real Life 101 Scholarship and Mentoring Program with a mission to improving the higher education opportunities of at-risk inner-city males and Athletes Unlimited a non-profit that provides opportunities for young aspiring athletes with disabilities. He is an investor in IMPACT3 that deploys time, treasure, and talent in social enterprises to make an impact in Detroit, Michigan. He is in the Wharton Fellows Program at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), and CEO Connection.

About SET Enterprises, Inc.
SET Enterprises is a Leading Metals Processor and Value Chain Partner delivering innovative solutions which addresses the dynamic supply base challenges of the steel and aluminum mills, OEMs and Tier 1 automotive and non-automotive customers. SET’s suite of Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) technologies include Blanking Without Dies® (BWD), Additive Manufacturing, and Free Form Fabrication. SET has plants in Michigan, Alabama, Indiana, and Illinois. SET’s annual revenues exceeded $400 Million in 2016. For more information contact or visit www.setenterprises.com Tel: +1 586 573 3600

About Michigan Chronicle
The Michigan Chronicle is a weekly newspaper based in Detroit, Michigan, serving the African-American community. It is owned by Detroit-based Real Times LLC which owns, along with the Chicago Defender, five other reginal weeklies that cater to the African American community. The Michigan Chronicle was founded in 1936. For more information visit www.michronicleonline.com

For additional information on related companies, please contact or visit websites below :

CINTRON WORLD – www.cintronworld.com 1 Woodward Avenue, Suite 2020 Detroit, MI 48226 USA Tel: +1 313 264 0066

AG MANUFACTURING – www.agmanufacturing.com 319 Industrial Parkway, Harbor Beach MI 48441 USA Tel: +1 989 479 9590

SET DUCT MANUFACTURING – www.setduct.com; 7800 Intervale, Detroit, MI 48238 USA
Tel +1 313 491 4380

THE ASABA GROUP – www.asabagroupholdings.com 220 North Main Street, Suite 102 Natick MA 01760 USA Tel: +1 508 655 8100

Victor Edozien Named to the Michigan Chronicle’s “Men of Excellence” for 2017

WARREN, Michigan, July 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Victor Edozien, CEO and President of SET Enterprises, Inc. (an Asaba Group Holdings Company) has been selected by the Michigan Chronicle to its 2017 and 10th anniversary class of “Men of Excellence.” This the 10th year that the publication has celebrated African-American men who inspire others through vision, leadership, exceptional achievements, and participation in community service.https://prnewswire2-a.akamaihd.net/p/1893751/sp/189375100/thumbnail/entry_id/1_24m3cz00/def_height/400/def_width/400/version/100011/type/1

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/534696/SET_Enterprises_Inc_2017_Men_of_Excellence_Award.jpg

Mr. Edozien was chosen from among 400 nominations, based on his success as an entrepreneur, business executive, and SET Enterprises corporate social responsibility initiatives and community involvement. The Men of Excellence awards took place on June 30, 2017 at the Motor City Casino in Detroit, MI.

“I am beyond honored to receive this recognition,” said Victor Edozien.  Accolades may come my way but when such recognition comes from our own community it is inestimable. I am humbled and appreciative in ways words cannot adequately express. This recognition from the Michigan Chronicle, a leading African American newspaper, and being inducted into a group with many individuals that I have admired and respected their professional and civic accomplishments is quite awe-inspiring. I am thrilled to be part of this group – The Men of Excellence.”

For a decade, the Michigan Chronicle has celebrated African American men who inspire others through professional accomplishments and dedication to improving life in the community. Honorees were chosen from over 400 hundred of nominations and join an elite group influential African American men. “These distinguished men not only have professional success to their credit, but they are beacons for the African American community through-out the region,” said Hiram Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media and publisher of Michigan Chronicle.

Community involvement and corporate social responsibility is a core value among the Asaba Group companies. SET Enterprises is actively involved with advocacy and supports community organizations like Real Life 101 Scholarship Fund, Rhonda Walker Foundation, Athletes Unlimited and Winning Futures. Cintron World, an Asaba Group company, is demonstrating its commitment to the eradication of breast cancer in communities of color by holding in July 2018 the first USA Cintron Pink Polo event in Detroit. This event will raise funds and increase awareness for breast cancer detection and treatment.

About Victor Edozien
Victor Edozien is the President and CEO of SET Enterprises, Inc. and the Founder/Managing Principal of The Asaba Group, Inc. – a private equity holding company (www.asabagroupholdings.com). He has been in principal investing since 2004 primarily in manufacturing and consumer goods sectors. He is a board member of Real Life 101 Scholarship and Mentoring Program with a mission to improving the higher education opportunities of at-risk inner-city males and Athletes Unlimited a non-profit that provides opportunities for young aspiring athletes with disabilities. He is an investor in IMPACT3 that deploys time, treasure, and talent in social enterprises to make an impact in Detroit, Michigan. He is in the Wharton Fellows Program at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), and CEO Connection.

About SET Enterprises, Inc.
SET Enterprises is a Leading Metals Processor and Value Chain Partner delivering innovative solutions which addresses the dynamic supply base challenges of the steel and aluminum mills, OEMs and Tier 1 automotive and non-automotive customers. SET’s suite of Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) technologies include Blanking Without Dies® (BWD), Additive Manufacturing, and Free Form Fabrication. SET has plants in Michigan, Alabama, Indiana, and Illinois. SET’s annual revenues exceeded $400 Million in 2016. For more information contact or visit www.setenterprises.com Tel: +1 586 573 3600

About Michigan Chronicle
The Michigan Chronicle is a weekly newspaper based in Detroit, Michigan, serving the African-American community. It is owned by Detroit-based Real Times LLC which owns, along with the Chicago Defender, five other reginal weeklies that cater to the African American community. The Michigan Chronicle was founded in 1936. For more information visit www.michronicleonline.com

For additional information on related companies, please contact or visit websites below :

CINTRON WORLD – www.cintronworld.com 1 Woodward Avenue, Suite 2020 Detroit, MI 48226 USA Tel: +1 313 264 0066

AG MANUFACTURING – www.agmanufacturing.com 319 Industrial Parkway, Harbor Beach MI 48441 USA Tel: +1 989 479 9590

SET DUCT MANUFACTURING – www.setduct.com; 7800 Intervale, Detroit, MI 48238 USA
Tel +1 313 491 4380

THE ASABA GROUP – www.asabagroupholdings.com 220 North Main Street, Suite 102 Natick MA 01760 USA Tel: +1 508 655 8100