The Citizens From Cameroon and Uganda Are Unable To Speak The Truth About Their Leaders
I had the opportunity to connect with some individuals from the African countries of Cameroon and Uganda recently and asked them some questions about their country’s leadership. My first contact from Cameroon was very engaging until I asked them what they knew about Paul Biya (which is the country’s ruling dictator). At first, my contact said they knew a lot about Paul Biya and I followed up and asked if they could possibly tell me more about Biya. My contact would often hesitate by saying “not now” or “is that necessary” and ending the conversation by telling me “if you wouldn’t mind, I don’t like talking about him.”
My second contact from Cameroon reacted almost the same way when asked about Paul Biya by stating “sorry, I don’t know nothing about my president, I don’t know nothing.” It wasn’t until a phone conversation with this contact that finally revealed the true reason behind their silence when it comes to talking about Paul Biya. This particular contact told me that they could not talk about Paul Biya out of fear of being detained and possibly killing as a result. Both of these contacts are currently living in Cameroon under the dictatorial rule of Paul Biya where speaking out publicly about his regime could cost you your life.
The information I received turned out to be true in regards to Paul Biya’s aggressive assault on dissent. I was contacted by the friend of my second Cameroonian contact who has been living in the U.S. for twenty years and they told me that indeed my second contact and every other Cameroonian faces the possibility of being killed for their outspoken opposition to Paul Biya’s rule. The friend informed me that Paul Biya has no respect for human rights, the rule of law, or providing resources for the Cameroonian people. In fact, the friend told me that many people in Cameroon have become sick or died from a lack of adequate drinking water including my contacts own parents while others have just disappeared after voicing their disapproval over the governments handling of state resources.
I also had the pleasure of talking to an individual from Uganda who had a different perspective about their country’s leadership which was either out of fear of reprisal or complete indoctrination. When I asked about long time ruling Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni, my contact was quick to address him as president of their country. I told my contact that Museveni was known in the international community as a dictator who abuses human rights. Again, my contact was quick to disagree stating that they appreciate Museveni for what he has done for the country by fighting for freedom and sacrificing his life for Ugandans.
My contact from Uganda continued to shower Yoweri Museveni with praise even when I mentioned that Museveni recently had a woman arrested for insulting his wife. My contact said they did not know anything about that incident, and continued to state that through his excellency Yoweri Museveni we love people, welcome strangers, conduct trade, take in refugees, have free education, organizations, and help the poor to some extent. I asked my contact if Museveni allows freedom of speech, assembly, association, and a free press. My contact told me that every person in Uganda has freedom of speech as long as you’re not “destroying or striking” which involves vandalizing government property, conducting disorganized meetings, or encouraging people to shout and vent their frustrations in an unorganized manner which is very vague and unrelated language as to what constitutes protected free speech.
My Ugandan contact who currently lives under the dictatorial leadership of Yoweri Museveni could indeed be captivated by the world that Museveni has created in Uganda through the pacification of good deeds and government resources as a way to surpass the population into looking past state repression and believing that Museveni’s long time rule is legitimate for Uganda’s future. Another theory suggests that my contact may be concerned for their safety and rather decides to praise the Museveni regime than criticize the governments obvious failures in upholding freedom for fear of reprisal if they were to speak out against Museveni’s rule which has been highly critical of political dissent and human rights. Stemming from our conversation, I got the feeling that my contact was just telling me what they wanted me to hear instead of telling me the truth which reveals the power of a dictatorial system.
Unheard Accounts About The Venezuelan Regime Under Hugo Chavez
During my time at college, I had the opportunity to talk to one of my colleagues about late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and learn about the tactics he used to stay in power that are for the most part unaccounted for. I was at a college function attending a lecture hosted by the Terrorism Research Center and shortly after the meeting I became engaged in a conversation with one of my colleagues about where they were from. My colleague said they were from Venezuela and I asked them in a concerned manner, are you happy or sad at this point in time about the recent death of Hugo Chavez? My colleague responded with a joyful retaliation stating, “I’m glad he’s dead! He can burn in hell! I partied all night when I heard the news of his death! He had my brother killed!”
Turns out my colleagues brother was a vocal critic of Hugo Chavez and was allegedly shot to death by some of Chavez’s security forces because of his direct opposition towards the regime. On the other hand, my colleagues sisters were supporters of Chavez as one sister received one hundred dollars for getting pregnant and the other sister was given a microwave for her support. Hugo Chavez would often use his military to redistribute goods and services to his supporters in return for their vote on election day. Many of Chavez’s supporters were in the minority and remained poor by becoming dependent on the governments large entitlement program. My colleague explained to me that the majority of Venezuelans were opposed to Chavez’s government, but every time a presidential election is held Chavez always emerges as the winner. Which brought me to my next question. Why can’t Hugo Chavez be voted out of office if the majority of the country is against his policies?
My colleague informed me about a voter irregularity that Chavez used that allowed him to win while not making it look obvious enough to garner international criticism. Hugo Chavez had a very strong relationship with the Cuban regime and during Venezuela’s elections Chavez would import Cubans from Cuba who were ordered by the Cuban authorities to vote for Hugo Chavez in the election. This tactic overwhelmed the majority vote making it look like a close free and fair election for Chavez which was anything but that. This information came after the fact that my Latin American Politics professor asked the class about what we thought about the 2012 Venezuelan election in which a still living Hugo Chavez unanimously won.
I told my professor the election was probably rigged (not knowing the information my colleague would share with me in the future). My professor stated; Rigged? Really! Little did my professor know that there were people at the college and in the community who knew the truth about the corrupt dictatorial regime of Hugo Chavez and were able to provide a wealth of information and facts about the Chavez regime that most in academia fail to acknowledge or understand.
Jordanian Americans Don’t Want To Talk About King Abdullah II
I use to frequent a certain Middle Eastern restaurant in my area and got to know the owners from what I gathered until the time I asked about Jordan’s dictator King Abdullah II. The owners of the restaurant are a husband and wife duo from Jordan who claim to have lived in the United States for thirty years. I went to the restaurant to order some food and like previous times before I was making conversation with the husband who is very informative and educated about various topics. I asked the husband if he would care to discuss the topic of Jordanian politics particularly those politics concerning King Abdullah II.
With the sheer mention of King Abdullah II’s name the conversation quickly took an abrupt turn. The husband just completely shut down and his wife became very nervous and started pacing around the counter where me and the husband were talking. I told the husband that I was in the process of launching a blog that upholds human rights and exposes dictators and I was basically just trying to gather information from people who have been affected or have first hand accounts about their country of origin and the political situation there so that I could document their report on my blog in an effort to get more information out to the public in order to raise more concerns about the human rights violations occurring in countries that are under dictatorial rule.
The husband told me that all the information I wanted on King Abdullah II was on the internet. I told the husband that I was looking for some personal accounts of information that you may not find in the main stream media. At this point the wife looked to be more nervous than before and the husband mention something to me that I found rather interesting regarding our conversation on Jordanian politics. The husband said, “my friend all I can tell you is that when Bill Clinton was the president the economy was good, but today I don’t like Bill Clinton.”
So was the husband indicating that since King Abdullah II has been in power Jordan’s economy is good, but he doesn’t like the King at this point in time? After his statement, the husband became very disengaged and uninterested in discussing anything to do with Jordan or King Abdullah II which was odd coming from a person that was happy to tell you where they were from and very informative and knowledgeable about a host of topics, but suddenly became silent and nervous when talking about the King of Jordan.
Could it be that this Jordanian couple are hiding something? Could they be supporters of the regime and don’t want people to know? Maybe they are opponents of the regime and they are afraid to speak out about the King for fear of reprisal against them or their family living in Jordan if word gets out? The reason for their silence may never be known, but their reluctance to talk raises suspicions about what they know and why are they afraid to say one word about King Abdullah II while living in a country like the United States where they are free to talk about foreign leaders. Whatever the reason my be just goes to show you that there is something about King Abdullah II that’s disturbing and thought provoking enough to drive Jordanian Americans into timid reflections of their fears.
Chinese Individuals Living In The U.S. Reluctant To Talk About China’s Human Rights Record
I want to address a mysterious phenomenon that I noticed in the United States involving some Chinese individuals who are totally oblivious about the political implications concerning their own country. China has had a long history of totalitarianism under Mao Zedong where millions of people died as a result of reckless policies and backwards ideology to a present day authoritarian regime that operates through open market capitalism under a cloud of state repression. The Chinese government is not shy when it comes to silencing its critics while going to great lengths to boaster its place on the international stage by building up its military presence in the South China Sea to trade relations and having one of the world’s worst human rights records and yet there are still some Chinese individuals who claim to know nothing about their country or its political situation which is interesting and suspicious at the same time.
During college, I was tasked with writing a research paper about some incidents that occurred in China in the early 2000’s involving numerous protests and uprisings in several different Chinese provinces throughout the country that were tied to government corruption and human rights abuses. Determined to find some expertise information for my assignment, I went to one of my favorite Asian restaurants where I got to know the staff on a personal level and was assuring myself that they could help me get the information I needed for my project, so I thought. Everyone from the restaurant is from China and seemed well connected and knowledgeable about Chinese culture. I asked my Chinese counterparts if they knew anything about the protests and uprisings that occurred in China and their direct response was that they did not know anything about those incidents or Chinese politics.
I followed up by asking if they knew about China’s human rights record and I received a similar response like before in which they stated that they knew absolutely nothing about the human rights situation in China. I then asked, well, do you at lease know about Mao Zedong and they said, oh yes, and that was it, no further comments. This was not a crew of individuals that I would deem ignorant about Chinese society which was rather odd having talked to the owner of the restaurant about Chinese politics a time before, but this time everybody seemed to come down with amnesia or did not want to talk about China for some reason. Now, when I visit the restaurant the staff just looks at me like I know too much.
I even went to the university I graduated from to ask some international students at the college’s International House about foreign affairs and human rights while I was in the process of starting this blog. I talked to a Chinese student and asked them if they could help provide me with some information concerning Chinese human rights abuses and they said that they knew nothing about that topic. I then proceeded to ask the student if they knew anything about China in general and they said no. I thought that was odd that a Chinese college student from China did not know anything about their own country and was reluctant to talk about it.
Before the previous conversations mentioned, I was at a function talking to my neighbor and their family who happened to be from China. My neighbor worked at the university as an IT professor. During our conversation, I asked my neighbor what they thought about the Chinese governments continuous crackdowns on basic human rights. I can remember my neighbors wife get up and leave the conversation upon the sheer mention of Chinese human rights abuses. My neighbor just dodged the question and said they know about friends of theirs that have gotten rich in China which was my neighbors way of saying that everything is good in China and there’s nothing to see here.
Are these Chinese individuals completely clueless about their country or is there something else going on here? Business Insider had an interesting article about a Chinese intelligence officer that defected to the United States and said that for years now the Chinese government has been sending spies to the U.S. in the form of students, professors, and work force professionals in order to spy and gather information on American businesses and institutions with the intentions on sending the information back to Beijing so that the Chinese Communist Party can devise ways to undermine American security.
Why wouldn’t these Chinese individuals talk about China’s human rights situation? Why don’t these individuals know anything about their own country? Why is it that when I mentioned the phrase “Chinese human rights abuses” that these individuals automatically became silent and unresponsive? Could these individuals be spies for the Chinese government and therefore talking would blow their cover? The answers to these questions my never be known until the truth is revealed. It just strikes me as odd that I can talk to random strangers from Venezuela about that country’s human rights situation and they are completely open and animated about expressing their concern for their country’s problems, but some Chinese individuals are a blank page when it comes to any recollection about their country and especially the topic of human rights abuses.
The Events That Led To Saudi Arabian Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Disappearance and Murder
Jamal Khashoggi first visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Turkey on September 28 to obtain a document certifying that he had divorced his ex-wife, but he was told he would have to return at a later date and time to obtain the document. Mr. Khashoggi arranged to come back to the consulate on Tuesday October 2, 2018. On Tuesday October 2, 2018 at 03:13, the first private jet (tail number HZ-SK2) carrying nine suspected Saudi agents arrives at the Istanbul airport. Prior to the first private jet, there were six other men who had arrived earlier on different commercial flights. At 04:53, ten men from the group checked into the five-stars hotel Movenpick for three nights nearby the consulate building. Hotel surveillance video timestamped at 4:53:09 shows five other men checking into the five-stars Wyndham Grand Hotel.
The group included Salah Muhammad Al Tubaigy, the head of the Saudi Forensic Medicine Institute. At 12:12, several diplomatic vehicles are filmed arriving at the consulate allegedly carrying some of the Saudi agents. Surveillance video timestamped at 12:12:47 shows the Turkish staff at the consulate abruptly being told to take a holiday on the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance and murder. At 13:14, Khashoggi arrived for his appointment, which was scheduled for 13:30 to get the divorce documentation in order to marry his fiancee. Surveillance video timestamped at 13:14:38 shows that Khashoggi entered the door of the consulate. Khashoggi gave his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz two mobile phones and told her to call an adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if he did not come back out. At 15:08, surveillance footage shows six cars including a black Mercedes van with diplomatic licence plates move from the consulate to the consul’s home.
It was reported that Turkish employees at the residence were surprised to be asked not to come to work the day Khashoggi disappeared. Surveillance video timestamped at 15:08:17 shows a van on CCTV being loaded with boxes, which authorities believe may have been used to transport Khashoggi’s remains to the airport. At 15:09, the black Mercedes van is seen pulled up in front of the residence of Otaibi, the Saudi consul general. At 17:15, a second private jet (tail number HZ-SK1) carrying a number of suspected Saudi officials lands in Istanbul. At 17:33, Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz is seen on CCTV waiting outside the consulate and speaking on her phone. There has been no footage made public showing Khashoggi walking out of the consulate except a video of someone supposedly impersonating Khashoggi with his clothes and a fake beard.
Surveillance video timestamped at 17:33:16 shows Khashoggi’s fiancee waiting outside the consulate for more than 10 hours and then returning on Wednesday morning when Mr. Khashoggi had still not reappeared. At 18:40, the second private jet (tail number HZ-SK1) carrying a number of suspected Saudi officials departs Istanbul. At 22:54, the private jet (tail number HZ-SK2) which earlier carried the nine suspected Saudi agents departs Istanbul.
About the 15 member hit team: The pro-government Turkish newspaper Sabah said it had identified a 15 member team of suspected Saudi agents who flew in and out of Istanbul on October 2. One of the suspected men, Maher Mutreb served as a colonel in Saudi intelligence and was based at the country’s embassy in London. Nine of the agents reportedly arrived on a private jet (HZ-SK2) from the Saudi capital of Riyadh at around 03:15 on the day Mr. Khashoggi visited the consulate October 2. Six other agents had arrived earlier on two commercial flights. The rest of the suspected agents are reported to have arrived later that day on a second private jet (HZ-SK1).
Private jets: The Saudi’s intelligence team traveled by two twin engine Gulfstream IV jets tail numbers HZ-SK2 and HZ-SK1 owned by Riyadh based Sky Prime Aviation Services, according to public records.
Team 1: HZ-SK2 (Private plane tail numbers) Departed Riyadh: October 1 at 23:40 Arrived in Istanbul: October 2 at 03:13 Departed Istanbul: October 2 at 22:54 Arrived in Dubai: October 3 at 02:48 Departed Dubai: October 3 at 22:08 Arrived in Riyadh: October 3 at 23:35
Team 2: HZ-SK1 (Private plane tail numbers) Departed Riyadh: October 2 at 13:23 Arrived in Istanbul: October 2 at 17:15 Departed Istanbul: October 2 at 18:40 Arrived in Cairo: October 2 at 20:32 Departed Cairo: October 3 at 23:31 Arrived in Riyadh: October 4 at 01:45
What we know about Jamal Khashoggi: The American main stream media will have you believe that Jamal Khashoggi was an outspoken critic and champion of human rights in regards to Saudi Arabia. According to the Security Studies Group, Khashoggi was neither a journalist nor a human rights activist, but rather an agent of influence for the Qatari government that used his position at the Washington Post to publish propaganda for Qatar’s dictator Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Jamal Khashoggi was anti-American, anti-Israel, pro-Islamist, and a propagandist for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudi government had Khashoggi assassinated because he was a spy for Qatar. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are in a heated dispute over Qatar’s support for the Iranian regime and their growing influence in Washington D.C. The Saudi’s view Iran as their number one enemy in the Middle East so it only makes sense to the Saudi regime that they dispose of someone like Jamal Khashoggi who conducted intelligence operations on behalf of Qatar, a supporter of Iran and an enemy to Saudi Arabia.
Political Persecution and Life Inside Maduro’s Venezuela
I had the pleasure to meet, interview, and talk to two refugees from Venezuela who are seeking political asylum in the United States on accounts of being targeted, harassed, and persecuted by the Venezuelan government for their protest and opposition towards the Maduro regime. Their stories are a real life account of what’s really happening in Venezuela in regards to political repression and what measures the government will take in order to intimidate and silence dissent at all costs.
For security concerns, the exact names of the individuals contained in this report will remain anonymous for the protection of their identities while in exile and for the safety of their close colleagues that currently live under the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro.
March 2016 would be the year that changed Maria’s life forever. Having lived in Venezuela her whole life, the prospects of starting a new life in the United States would be an unexpected challenge. Understanding a different culture, customs, and language were not on Maria’s radar at the time, but due to the unforeseeable circumstances transpiring in Venezuela enabled the prospects that unconditional change was inevitable. Maria came to the United States as a refugee seeking political asylum after being persecuted by the Venezuelan government. Early on, Maria became politically active by joining the Venezuelan political party Primero Justicia (First Justice). Maria was responsible for organizing and handing out information to potential voters about party candidates. Witnessing the country slipping into the deep throngs of authoritarianism, Maria found herself in direct opposition towards the policies of the Chavez and Maduro regimes.
As the Venezuelan economy worsened and political pluralism became nonexistent under Nicolas Maduro, Maria and her colleagues made their way to the streets of Venezuela to vocally protest for a new government that would not involve Maduro. During this time, Maria witnessed many protesters killed in the streets by Maduro’s security forces. The protesters, many of whom were university students were rounded up by the Venezuelan authorities and taken to detainment centers where they often endured torture, sexual abuse, and possible execution. Detainees who lived to tell their stories were quoted as saying “it’s better to die on the streets than to be taken in by the government.”
Because of Maria’s defiant stance to protest her own government, informants loyal to the Maduro regime were being paid to report on individuals who openly opposed the government. Anyone connected to an opposition political party or seen marching and protesting in the streets against the government were targeted. The protesters identities and whereabouts were made known by the Venezuelan intelligence services and all critics of the government eventually became victims of targeted harassment and intimidation by the authorities. In the midst of her political activities, Maria began to find herself the victim of targeted harassment and intimidation by the Venezuelan authorities as well. First, Maria was denied the ability to work because of her protest against the government and then Maria began receiving death threats upon her life because of her involvement in the whole movement to oust Maduro from power. Because of Maria’s courageous stance against the Maduro regime and her involvement with Primero Justicia, Maria’s life was threatened to the point that she no longer felt safe in her own country and that there was no other option than to flee Venezuela in exile or stay and risk the possibility of becoming another casualty of the Maduro regime like she had witnessed so many of her closest colleagues succumb to.
In the wake of international condemnation with reports of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detainment, forced disappearances, and widespread starvation, it’s interesting that Maduro’s own military have not turned their back on him and cancelled his command. Maria stated that the Venezuelan military are often paid off by Maduro with incentives or perks involving discounts for food or increased military rank just to keep them from defecting. Venezuela’s military are basically left with only two options to either obey Maduro’s orders and kill Venezuelans or desert and leave the country. With added support, Maria also mentioned that there are many Cuban and Chinese operatives in Venezuela that are aiding the Maduro regime with intelligence and military operations.
When asked if there were any solutions to Venezuela’s current economic and political crisis that could possibly involve an international intervention or an internal uprising to bring down the Maduro regime and restore democracy into a once prosperous country, Maria responded by saying that only God can save Venezuela at this point.
March 1, 2018 would be the year that changed Isabella’s life forever as well. Isabella was born in Venezuela and ran her own store that sold goods to the public. Apart from politics, Isabella claimed to have everything in Venezuela. All that changed once she decided to take part in street protests against the Maduro government. Isabella had always been anti-Chavez and anti-Maduro, but it wasn’t until Venezuela started to descend into chaos economically and politically that Isabella started joining the streets protests in opposition to the Maduro regimes draconian policies and blatant authoritarianism that were dominating the once prosperous South American country. Isabella declared that she was only involved in the street marches as an individual and not connected to any organization or political party.
Due to Venezuela’s abysmal economy and lack of resources for her family, Isabella decided to leave Venezuela because she wanted her daughter to have a better life. Isabella was also receiving threats from the government to her and her family’s life because of her protest activity. Isabella also had her bank account blocked by the government because she defected to the U.S. Under these circumstances and repercussions, Isabella is currently living in exile in the United States and seeking political asylum from the persecution she received from the Maduro regime.
Apart from political persecution, Isabella was able to give a detailed account of the state of affairs and what life is like inside Maduro’s Venezuela. Isabella’s brother currently serves as a high ranking colonel in the Venezuelan military. He does not support Maduro or his policies, but has to stay silent because of the severe repercussions if he were to question or fall out of line with Maduro’s authority. A high percentage of Venezuela’s military are against Maduro. In order to keep the military intact, a large part of the military is bought off by the government. The Cubans and the Russians are working in Venezuela as well and have infiltrated the country’s military and intelligence agencies. Both countries help provide Maduro’s government with information about opposition individuals and groups and then teach the Venezuelan authorities on ways to target and further oppress their activities.
Isabella said she has a friend who was in the Venezuelan air force that defected and flew their plan to the Dominican Republic and then sought asylum in the United States. Isabella mentioned that Nicolas Maduro is actually a Colombian and not a Venezuelan and Colombia has a record to prove it. Maduro’s wife’s nephew was arrested for drug charges and is currently serving prison time in the United States. Isabella said life inside Maduro’s Venezuela is entrenched in severe economic misery and violent confrontations due to increased government repression. Isabella helplessly watched as the government security forces killed protesters in the street. Isabella said that it’s not uncommon for Maduro’s government to target and deliberately kill opposition protesters.
Many people in Venezuela are dying from hunger because of the lack of food and resources denied within the country. Isabella stated that she had no electricity where she used to live. She had friends who would have to go to neighboring Colombia to get resources in order to survive. All of Venezuela’s grocery stores are controlled by the government. The Venezuelan population is forced to wait in long food lines for basic commodities. Stores would often have to close down because of robberies and government regulations. The general public as well as the police are desperate for food because the overall population is without functioning stores and high inflation has caused resources to become expensive and unable to even afford.
The government often coerces Venezuelans into signing a list for a box of food which in reality is actually used as a ballad vote for Maduro. Isabella mentioned that the government routinely forces families to pay high fines to get family members out of detention or the government authorities would threaten to cut off their arms. During our discussion, Isabella would often wipe away the tears from her eyes as she reminisces about a time in Venezuela when she had everything until Maduro’s government took it all away.