Researchers: Sino-Russian joint military exercise a warning to terrorists
BEIJING, July 22 (Xinhua) — A joint military exercise launched by Chinese and Russian armed forces Wednesday is a strong warning and deterrence to terrorists in the region, military researchers said.
General of the Army Nikolai Makarov, Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and General Chen Bingde, Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), announced the commencement of the five-day “Peace Mission-2009” exercise in Russia’s Khabarovsk.
“The exercise’s orientation, arrangements and preparations have all revealed its anti-terror nature,” said Major General Luo Yuan, researcher with the PLA’s Military Sciences Academy.
“The major subjects of the exercise are not designed to train positional attack-and-defense or mobile warfare, but to encircle and suppress unprepared terrorists,” Luo said.
“Terrorism activities vary in different countries and regions. It may be a large incident, such as that in Chechnya, or it could be individual operations such as roadside and suicide bombings,” said Professor Ouyang Wei, of the PLA’s National Defense University.
“Anti-terror operations should be customized to deal with different security threats,” Ouyang said.
Rights group slams Saudi detentions
Saudi security forces are secretly holding more than 3,000 suspected members of al-Qaeda and other groups as part of a sweeping crackdown on “terrorism” in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, Amnesty International has said.
In a report published on Wednesday, the human rights group said Saudi Arabia used torture to extract confessions and criticised the international community for turning a blind eye to the kingdom’s methods.
Malcolm Smart, the head of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme, said: “These unjust anti-terrorism measures have made an already dire human rights situation worse.”
Saudi Arabia has arrested thousands of suspected members of al-Qaeda, which is accused of carrying out a string of attacks against expatriate residential compounds, oil facilities and government buildings in the country.
Abdulrahman Alhadlaq, the Saudi Arabian interior ministry official, defended the kingdom’s record and said that Amnesty’s claims “have to be proven”.
“Our policies on human rights are very clear and the orders given are for prisoners to be treated with respect and according to international human rights principles,” Alhadlaq said.
“If anything happened, it would be an individual case and if it is brought to anybody’s attention it will be dealt with.”
But Amnesty said more than 3,100 people were being held “in virtual secrecy” and others had been killed in uncertain circumstances.
It criticised the Saudis for carrying out “secret and summary trials” and for reportedly torturing detainees to extract confessions.
“Our policies on human rights are very clear and the orders given are for prisoners to be treated with respect and according to international human rights principles”
Abdulrahman Alhadlaq, Saudi Arabia’s interior minister
They said torture methods include “severe beatings with sticks, punching, and suspension from the ceiling, use of electric shocks and sleep deprivation.”
“The abuses take place behind a wall of secrecy,” Smart said.
“Most [detainees] are held incommunicado for years without trial, and are denied access to lawyers and the courts to challenge the legality of their detention.”
Amnesty said it sought Saudi comment on its report but did not receive “any substantive response”.
The report came two weeks after the Saudi government said it had convicted 330 al-Qaeda members in the kingdom’s first known terrorism trials for suspected members of the network.
One member was sentenced to death, while others were given jail terms, fines and travel bans.
Authorities said the defendants were accused of belonging to the “deviant group,” a description often used by Saudi officials for al-Qaeda, as well as a range of other related charges.
The US and other countries strongly pushed Saudi Arabia to crack down on terrorism after it was discovered that 15 of the 19 hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States came from the kingdom.
Amnesty criticised the international community for failing to apply the same pressure on Saudi Arabia to improve its human rights practices for fear of angering a key Middle East ally that is the largest exporter of oil in the world.