Tag Archives: Corruption

Hacking Group Anonymous Targets Global Pedophiles

Hacking group Anonymous to target pedophiles using the ‘dark web’ to carry out child abuse
  • Hacking group Anonymous are targeting international pedophile rings
  • ‘Operation Death Eaters’ is campaign aiming to expose ‘pedosadists’
  • Global project is building a grassroots database of international cases
  • Hopes to ultimately expose an ‘international cult’ of child sex abuse  
  • Calling on followers to research cases of high level corruption 
  • Also demands ‘end to human trafficking and abuse complicity worldwide’

By KEILIGH BAKER FOR MAILONLINE

Anonymous protesters with covered faces march from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square and then around the streets of London to protest austerity, mass surveillance and attacks on human rights on November 5, 2014.

Anonymous protesters with covered faces march from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square and then around the streets of London to protest austerity, mass surveillance and attacks on human rights on November 5, 2014.

In the wake of the Westminster child abuse scandal and allegations of establishment cover-ups, hackers Anonymous have decided to expose international pedophile networks.

The hacking group says it is is planning on collecting evidence against international pedophile rings and their abuse of children to find the links between different operations and ultimately bring the perpetrators to justice.

Named ‘Operation Death Eaters’ after Voldemort’s band of evil followers in the Harry Potter series, the group is calling for a global effort in exposing the pedophile rings through the power of social media.

A still from the Operation Death Eaters video by  Anonymous - the hacking group says it is is planning on collecting evidence against international paedophile rings to ultimately bring the perpetrators to justice

A still from the Operation Death Eaters video by Anonymous – the hacking group says it is is planning on collecting evidence against international pedophile rings to ultimately bring the perpetrators to justice

This newest Anonymous campaign comes just weeks after the group declared war on jihadists in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.

Now, they are building a grassroots database of pedophile cases from across the world in order to ultimately expose an ‘international cult’ of child sex abuse.

A Tumblr set up to promote the campaign states: ‘The objective of opdeatheaters is an independent, international, victim-led tribunal/ inquiry into trafficking and paedosadist industry.

‘What is our first step? We need meticulously researched and clearly documented examples of high level complicity in the industry, obstruction of justice and cover ups to show the need for independent inquiries.’

The UK version of the site states: ‘The CSA inquiry in the UK is an attempt to depict a powerful cult as a string of isolated incidents of “sex abuse”.

‘The complicit UK media is running a huge propaganda campaign to conflate torture and murder with “pedophilia” and call for understanding of “pedophilia”.

‘This is not a group of sad pedophiles who need help and understanding. This is a torture and death cult with a powerful global human trafficking network.

‘We demand that torture and murder be called torture and murder, not sex. This is an international cult and needs to be investigated as one, not simply as an endless series of isolated incidents confined to the UK.

‘We call upon our comrades globally to help us investigate and demand an end to to the trafficking networks with arrests at the top not just the bottom.

‘We demand an end to human trafficking and abuse complicity worldwide.’

The Independent refers to an Anonymous statement which claims: ‘The Westminster pedophile ring is one of many cases where Operation DeathEaters has actively pursued and sought truth, in order to end the hideous crimes concealed behind the British elite.

‘In fear of these investigations being bungled over time, the operation’s objectives are clear and simple: source public information before it disappears, push for independent inquiry, and offer support to witnesses and the victims where needed.’

Anonymous also cites a number of high profile cases and investigations in the UK including Jimmy Savile, MP Cyril Smith,the claims regarding Elm Guest House and the now-defunct Paedophile International Exchange

Tens of millions of images of child abuse are believed to be circulating online on the ‘dark web’, many showing such graphic abuse that the media is turning a blind eye to the problem, experts warned this week.

Figures from the European Commission’s Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online suggest 50,000 new child abuse images are uploaded each year – of which more than 70 per cent are images of children under the age of 10.

On January 10 Anonymous activists released a video condemning the gun attack at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which left 12 people dead.

The hacking group says it wants to collect evidence against international paedophile rings and look into their abuse of children to find the links between different operations and bring the perpetrators to justice

The hacking group says it wants to collect evidence against international paedophile rings and look into their abuse of children to find the links between different operations and bring the perpetrators to justice

In the clip, which was uploaded to the group’s Belgian YouTube account, a figure wearing the group’s Guy Fawkes mask and a hood says in French in an electronically-distorted voice: ‘We are declaring war against you, the terrorists.’

Sitting at a desk and reading from a piece of paper, the figure says the group will track down and close all accounts on social networks related to terrorists to avenge those killed.

Anonymous has previously carried out cyber attacks on websites belonging to the Government, as well as those of corporate and religious organisations.

In 2012 Anonymous crippled the Home Office’s website by flooding it with huge amounts of internet traffic.

Named 'Operation Death Eaters' after Voldemort's band of evil followers in the Harry Potter series, the group is calling for a global effort in exposing the paedophile rings through the power of social media

ANONYMOUS – THE DIGITAL ROBIN HOOD OR JUST CYBER TERRORISTS?

Hacker group Anonymous has been linked to online attacks around the world aimed at punishing governments for policies of which the hackers disapprove.

Members are known as ‘Anons’ and are distinguished by their Guy Fawkes masks.

The group are seen as anything from digital Robin Hoods to cyber terrorists for their hacking campaigns against government agencies, child pornography sites and the Klu Klux Klan.

In 2008 the online community staged a series of protests, pranks, and hacks Church of Scientology as part if its ‘Project Chanology.’

Later targets of Anonymous ‘hacktivism’ included government agencies of the US, Israel, Tunisia, Uganda, and others, copyright protection agencies; the Westboro Baptist Church; and corporations such as PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, and Sony.

In 2013 they declared war on secretive ‘chat sites’ used by pedophiles to trade images.

Last November they hacked into the Twitter account of the Ku Klux Klan after the white supremacist group distributed flyers threatening ‘lethal force’ protesters in Ferguson.

Dozens of people have been arrested for involvement in Anonymous cyberattacks, in countries including the US, UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey.

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Mothers as Sex Traffickers

Ngao, Ann and Neoung live amid poverty in the Cambodian fishing village of Svay Pak. When faced with a financial crisis, each made the extraordinary decision to sell their adolescent daughter to sex traffickers.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN)

When a poor family in Cambodia fell afoul of loan sharks, the mother asked her youngest daughter to take a job. But not just any job.

The girl, Kieu, was taken to a hospital and examined by a doctor, who issued her a “certificate of virginity.” She was then delivered to a hotel, where a man raped her for two days.

Kieu was 12 years old.

“I did not know what the job was,” says Kieu, now 14 and living in a safehouse. She says she returned home from the experience “very heartbroken.” But her ordeal was not over.

After the sale of her virginity, her mother had Kieu taken to a brothel where, she says, “they held me like I was in prison.”

She was kept there for three days, raped by three to six men a day. When she returned home, her mother sent her away for stints in two other brothels, including one 400 kilometers away on the Thai border. When she learned her mother was planned to sell her again, this time for a six-month stretch, she realized she needed to flee her home.

“Selling my daughter was heartbreaking, but what can I say?” says Kieu’s mother, Neoung, in an interview with a CNN crew that traveled to Phnom Penh to hear her story.

Like other local mothers CNN spoke to, she blames poverty for her decision to sell her daughter, saying a financial crisis drove her into the clutches of the traffickers who make their livelihoods preying on Cambodian children.

“It was because of the debt, that’s why I had to sell her,” she says. “I don’t know what to do now, because we cannot move back to the past.”

It is this aspect of Cambodia’s appalling child sex trade that Don Brewster, a 59-year-old American resident of the neighborhood, finds most difficult to countenance.

“I can’t imagine what it feels like to have your mother sell you, to have your mother waiting in the car while she gets money for you to be raped,” he says. “It’s not that she was stolen from her mother — her mother gave the keys to the people to rape her.”

Sephak's mother Ann (left), and Kieu's mother Neoung, are cousins and live nearby each other. Like many mothers in Svay Pak, when times were tough for their families financially, they saw selling their daughters' virginity as a way to make money. Both say they now regret the decision.

Sephak’s mother Ann (left), and Kieu’s mother Neoung, are cousins and live nearby each other. Like many mothers in Svay Pak, when times were tough for their families financially, they saw selling their daughters’ virginity as a way to make money. Both say they now regret the decision.

Brewster, a former pastor, moved from California to Cambodia with wife Bridget in 2009, after a harrowing investigative mission trip to the neighborhood where Kieu grew up — Svay Pak, the epicenter of child trafficking in the Southeast Asian nation.

“Svay Pak is known around the world as a place where pedophiles come to get little girls,” says Brewster, whose organization, Agape International Missions (AIM), has girls as young as four in its care, rescued from traffickers and undergoing rehabilitation in its safehouses.

In recent decades, he says, this impoverished fishing village – where a daughter’s virginity is too often seen as a valuable asset for the family – has become a notorious child sex hotspot

“When we came here three years ago and began to live here, 100% of the kids between 8 and 12 were being trafficked,” says Brewster. The local sex industry sweeps up both children from the neighborhood — sold, like Kieu, by their parents – as well as children trafficked in from the countryside, or across the border from Vietnam. “We didn’t believe it until we saw vanload after vanload of kids.”

Global center for pedophiles

Weak law enforcement, corruption, grinding poverty and the fractured social institutions left by the country’s turbulent recent history have helped earn Cambodia an unwelcome reputation for child trafficking, say experts.

UNICEF estimates that children account for a third of the 40,000-100,000 people in the country’s sex industry.

Svay Pak, a dusty shantytown on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, is at the heart of this exploitative trade.

As one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in one of Asia’s poorest countries – nearly half the population lives on less than $2 per day — the poverty in the settlement is overwhelming. The residents are mostly undocumented Vietnamese migrants, many of whom live in ramshackle houseboats on the murky Tonle Sap River, eking out a living farming fish in nets tethered to their homes.

Svay Pak, an impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, is the epicenter of Cambodia's child sex trade. Many of its residents are undocumented Vietnamese migrants, living in a community of ramshackle houseboats connected by rickety walkways.

Svay Pak, an impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, is the epicenter of Cambodia’s child sex trade. Many of its residents are undocumented Vietnamese migrants, living in a community of ramshackle houseboats connected by rickety walkways.

Most residents here are fish farmers. Beneath the platform on which the ducks are resting is a net teeming with fish, which will be fattened up to maturity over the course of months to provide what is often the family's sole source of income.

Most residents here are fish farmers. Beneath the platform on which the ducks are resting is a net teeming with fish, which will be fattened up to maturity over the course of months to provide what is often the family’s sole source of income.

It’s a precarious existence. The river is fickle, the tarp-covered houseboats fragile. Most families here scrape by on less than a dollar a day, leaving no safety net for when things go wrong – such as when Kieu’s father fell seriously ill with tuberculosis, too sick to maintain the nets that contained their livelihood. The family fell behind on repayments of a debt.

In desperation, Kieu’s mother, Neoung, sold her virginity to a Cambodian man of “maybe more than 50,” who had three children of his own, Kieu says. The transaction netted the family only $500, more than the $200 they had initially borrowed but a lot less than the thousands of dollars they now owed a loan shark.

So Neoung sent her daughter to a brothel to earn more.

“They told me when the client is there, I have to wear short shorts and a skimpy top,” says Kieu. “But I didn’t want to wear them and then I got blamed.” Her clients were Thai and Cambodian men, who, she says, knew she was very young.

Don Brewster, a former pastor from California, is the founder and director of Agape International Missions, an organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating the victims of child trafficking in Cambodia and smashing the networks that exploit them. He moved to Cambodia with his wife in 2009 after a harrowing investigative mission trip to the neighborhood.

“When they sleep with me, they feel very happy,” she says. “But for me, I feel very bad.”

The men who abuse the children of Svay Pak fit a number of profiles. They include pedophile sex tourists, who actively seek out sex with prepubescent children, and more opportunistic “situational” offenders, who take advantage of opportunities in brothels to have sex with adolescents.

Sex tourists tend to hail from affluent countries, including the West, South Korea, Japan and China, but research suggests Cambodian men remain the main exploiters of child prostitutes in their country.

Mark Capaldi is a senior researcher for Ecpat International, an organization committed to combating the sexual exploitation of children.

“In most cases when we talk about child sexual exploitation, it’s taking place within the adult sex industry,” says Capaldi. “We tend to often hear reports in the media about pedophilia, exploitation of very young children. But the majority of sexual exploitation of children is of adolescents, and that’s taking place in commercial sex venues.”

The abusers would often be local, situational offenders, he says. Research suggests some of the Asian perpetrators are “virginity seekers,” for whom health-related beliefs around the supposedly restorative or protective qualities of virgins factor into their interest in child sex.

Whatever the profile of the perpetrator, the abuse they inflict on their victims, both girls and boys, is horrific. Trafficked children in Cambodia have been subjected to rape by multiple offenders, filmed performing sex acts and left with physical injuries — not to mention psychological trauma — from their ordeals, according to research.

In recent years, various crackdowns in Svay Pak have dented the trade, but also pushed it underground. Today, Brewster says, there are more than a dozen karaoke bars operating as brothels along the road to the neighborhood, where two years ago there was none. Even today, he estimates a majority of girls in Svay Park are being trafficked.

Virgins for sale

Kieu’s relative, Sephak, who lives nearby, is another survivor. (CNN is naming the victims in this case at the request of the girls themselves, as they want to speak out against the practice of child sex trafficking.)

Sephak was 13 when she was taken to a hospital, issued a certificate confirming her virginity, and delivered to a Chinese man in a Phnom Penh hotel room. She was returned after three nights. Sephak says her mother was paid $800.

“When I had sex with him, I felt empty inside. I hurt and I felt very weak,” she says. “It was very difficult. I thought about why I was doing this and why my mom did this to me.” After her return, her mother began pressuring her daughter to work in a brothel.

Toha listens to her mother explain how she came to sell her to sex traffickers. She no longer lives with her family, opting instead to live in a residence for trafficking survivors run by Brewster’s organization — but still provides her family some financial support from her new job.

Not far away from Sephak’s family home, connected to the shore via a haphazard walkway of planks that dip beneath the water with each footfall, is the houseboat where Toha grew up.

The second of eight children, none of whom attend school, Toha was sold for sex by her mother when she was 14. The transaction followed the same routine: medical certificate, hotel, rape.

About two weeks after she returned to Svay Pak, she says, the man who had bought her virginity began calling, requesting to see her again. Her mother urged her to go. The pressure drove her to despair.

“I went to the bathroom and cut my arms. I cut my wrists because I wanted to kill myself,” Toha says. A friend broke down the door to the bathroom and came to her aid.

Mothers as sex traffickers

CNN met with the mothers of Kieu, Sephak and Toha in Svay Pak to hear their accounts of why they chose to expose their daughters to sexual exploitation.

Kieu’s mother, Neoung, had come to Svay Pak from the south of the country in search of a better life when Kieu was just a baby. But life in Svay Pak, she would learn, wasn’t easy.

When her husband’s tuberculosis rendered him too sick to properly maintain the nets on the family’s fish pond, the family took on a $200 loan at extortionate rates from a loan shark. It has now ballooned to more than $9,000. “The debt that my husband and I have is too big, we can’t pay it off,” she says. “What can you do in a situation like this?”

“Virginity selling” was widespread in the community, and Neoung saw it as a legitimate option to make some income. “They think it is normal,” she says. “I told her, ‘Kieu, your dad is sick and can’t work… Do you agree to do that job to contribute to your parents?'”

“I know that I did wrong so I feel regret about it, but what can I do?” she says. “We cannot move back to the past.”

But she adds she would never do it again.

Sephak’s mother, Ann, has a similar story. Ann moved to Svay Pak when her father came to work as a fish farmer. She and her husband have serious health problems.

“We are very poor, so I must work hard,” she says. “It’s still not enough to live by and we’re sick all the time.”

The family fell on hard times. When a storm roared through the region, their house was badly damaged, their fish got away, and they could no longer afford to eat. In crisis, the family took out a loan that eventually spiraled to about $6000 in debt, she says.

With money-lenders coming to her home and threatening her, Ann made the decision to take up an offer from a woman who approached her promising big money for her daughter’s virginity.

“I saw other people doing it and I didn’t think it through,” she says. “If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t do that to my daughter.”

On her houseboat, as squalls of rain lash the river, Toha’s mother Ngao sits barefoot before the television taking pride of place in the main living area, and expresses similar regrets. On the wall hangs a row of digitally enhanced portraits of her husband and eight children. They are dressed in smart suits and dresses, superimposed before an array of fantasy backdrops: an expensive motorcycle, a tropical beach, an American-style McMansion.

Life with so many children is hard, she says, so she asked her daughter to go with the men.

She would not do the same again, she says, as she now has access to better support; Agape International Missions offers interest-free loan refinancing to get families out of the debt trap, and factory jobs for rescued daughters and their mothers.

The news of Ngao’s betrayal of her daughter has drawn mixed responses from others in the neighborhood, she says. Some mock her for offering up her daughter, others sympathize with her plight. Some see nothing wrong with she did at all.

“Some people say ‘It’s OK — just bring your daughter (to the traffickers) so you can pay off the debt and feel better,'” says Ngao.

Toha's mother Ngao says she sold her second daughter to sex traffickers to try to make ends meet for the rest of the family. She has eight children.

Toha’s mother Ngao says she sold her second daughter to sex traffickers to try to make ends meet for the rest of the family. She has eight children.

A new future

Not long after her suicide attempt, Toha was sent to a brothel in southern Cambodia. She endured more than 20 days there, before she managed to get access to a phone, and called a friend. She told the friend to contact Brewster’s group, who arranged for a raid on the establishment.

Although children can be found in many brothels across Cambodia — a 2009 survey of 80 Cambodian commercial sex premises found three-quarters offering children for sex – raids to free them are infrequent.

The country’s child protection infrastructure is weak, with government institutions riven with corruption. Cambodia’s anti-trafficking law does not even permit police to conduct undercover surveillance on suspected traffickers. General Pol Phie They, the head of Cambodia’s anti-trafficking taskforce set up in 2007 to address the issue, says this puts his unit at a disadvantage against traffickers.

“We are still limited in prosecuting these violations because first, we lack the expertise and second, we lack the technical equipment,” he says. “Sometimes, we see a violation but we can’t collect the evidence we need to prosecute the offender.”

He admits that police corruption in his country, ranked 160 of 175 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, is hampering efforts to tackle the trade in Svay Pak. “Police in that area probably do have connections with the brothel owners,” he concedes.

Toha’s nightmare is now over. She earns a steady income, weaving bracelets that are sold in American stores, while she studies for her future. Her dream is to become a social worker, helping other girls who have been through the same ordeal.

Brewster believes that corruption was to blame for nearly thwarting Toha’s rescue. In October 2012, after Toha’s call for help, AIM formulated plans with another organization to rescue the teen, and involved police.

“We get a warrant to shut the place down,” recalls Brewster. “Fifteen minutes later, Toha calls and says, ‘I don’t know what happened, the police just came with the owner and took us to a new place. I’m locked inside and don’t know where I am.'”

Fortunately the rescue team were able to establish Toha’s new location, and she and other victims were freed and the brothel managers arrested – although not before the owners fled to Vietnam.

Toha’s testimony against the brothel managers, however, resulted in their prosecutions.

Last month, at the Phnom Penh Municipal Courthouse, husband and wife Heng Vy and Nguyeng Thi Hong were found guilty of procuring prostitution and sentenced to three years in jail. Both were ordered to pay $1,250 to the court, $5,000 to Toha, and smaller sums to three other victims.

Brewster was in court to watch the sentencing; a small victory in the context of Cambodia’s child trafficking problem, but a victory nonetheless.

“Toha’s an amazingly brave girl,” he says on the courthouse steps, shortly after the brothel managers were led down to the cells.

“Getting a telephone when she’s trapped in a brothel to call for help, to saying she would be a witness in front of the police…. She stood up and now people are going to pay the price and girls will be protected. What it will do is bring more Tohas, more girls who are willing to speak, places shut down, bad guys put away.”

Like the other victims, Toha now lives in an AIM safehouse, attending school and supporting herself by weaving bracelets, which are sold in stores in the West as a way of providing a livelihood to formerly trafficked children.

In the eyes of the community, having a job has helped restore to the girls some of the dignity that was stripped from them by having been sold into trafficking, says Brewster.

It has also given them independence from their families — and with that, the opportunity to build for themselves a better reality than the one that was thrust on them. Now Sephak has plans to become a teacher, Kieu a hairdresser.

For her part, Toha still has contact with her mother – even providing financial support to the family through her earnings – but has become self-reliant. She wants to be a social worker, she says, helping girls who have endured the same hell she has.

“(Toha)’s earning a good living and she has a dream beyond that, you know, to become a counselor and to be able to help other girls,” says Brewster. “You see the transformation that’s happened to her.”

Chinese Slave Who Smuggled Note in Halloween Product Has Been Found

Chinese Slave Who Smuggled Note in Halloween Product Has Been Found

Chinese Slave Who Smuggled Note in Halloween Product Has Been Found

Your Halloween decorations may have been made by Chinese slaves. Oregonian Julie Keith learned this from a horrifying letter a slave laborer had slipped between two Styrofoam tombstones in a “Totally Ghoul” holiday kit she bought at Kmart. Care2 Causes told her story last December in “Chinese Labor Camp Inmate Smuggles Out Plea for Help In Kmart Product.” Since then, the letter writer has apparently been identified.

The letter described conditions in the Masanjia Labor Camp. Thousands of inmates worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week, on pain of beatings and torture, the whistleblower wrote. These were not convicts: they were presumed guilty, usually of political crimes or subscribing to a banned religion, and imprisoned without trials.

Keith sought help. Human rights organizations didn’t respond, and U.S. customs officials said there was nothing they could do besides put her report in a folder, though they now call the allegations an “investigative priority.” Ignored by authorities, Keith posted the letter on Facebook. Journalists picked up the story. One outlet, CNN, launched a search for the letter’s author, and remarkably, it seems that they found him.

Speaking under the alias Mr. Zhang, the self-proclaimed writer, who had since been released from Masanjia, told CNN, “the first thing they do is to take your human dignity away and humiliate you.” Zhang said the prison used beatings, sleep deprivation and torture to control inmates. Another former inmate, Liu Hua, has said the camp was “hell on earth.” She described guards ordering other prisoners to beat her and losing consciousness during one such assault; when she awoke, she was forced back to work.

A third former inmate said guards chained detainees up and sexually abused them. Chen Shenchun, who received a two-year sentence for continuing a petition campaign to recover unpaid wages from a state-owned factory, told of electric batons left on her skin so long she could smell burning flesh, and of being dragged by her hair.

China arrested Zhang a few months before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, apparently because he was a follower of Falun Gong, which China considers a cult and has outlawed. Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that claims to be based on Buddhism. Zhang and others say that Masanjia’s guards were particularly rough on Falun Gong members, who may have constituted about half the camp’s population. A report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom found that the Falun Gong are subject to arbitrary arrest, long detentions and torture, which has resulted in 3,500 deaths. They make up two-thirds of the alleged torture victims whose cases make it to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Other inmates were relegated to labor camps for criticizing the government or for petty crimes.

Zhang wrote 20 letters over two years about the plight of the prison camp’s inmates and packaged them in Halloween decoration kits, which was no small feat. He had to procure paper and a pen, neither of which prisoners were allowed to have. The only time he could write was during the already inadequate sleeping period, but even then the lights were kept on and guards watched every move. Zhang had to lay on his side with his back to the guard and prop the paper on his pillow, painstakingly spelling out the English he learned in college, then smuggle the missives into boxes that looked like they were headed for English-speaking countries.

His bravery and hard work, along with Keith’s determination to help, shone a light on Chinese “Ideological Education Schools.” China’s Communist party claims that it will stop using forced labor by the end of 2013. Masanjia has closed down, but it is only one of more than 300 Chinese labor camps, according to Amnesty International. A China researcher at the organization, Corinna-Barbara Francis, says closing the camps would be hard to do because they make money, and not just from the inmates’ labor. Prison guards collect bribes to ease up on particular detainees or even release them early. “Given the serious money being made in these places, the economic incentive to keep the system going is really powerful,” Francis said.

While Zhang is free, thousands of others continue to suffer in reeducation camps that treat inmates as slaves, while calling them “students.” This is one more reason not to buy products made in China.

 

The Child Rape Assembly Line

IN RITUAL BATHHOUSES OF THE JEWISH ORTHODOXY, CHILDREN ARE SYSTEMATICALLY ABUSED

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, the lone whistleblower among the Satmar, a powerful Hasidic sect, who recently was the victim of a bleach attack in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. All photos by Christian Storm.

By Christopher Ketcham

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg—who is 63 with a long, graying beard—recently sat down with me to explain what he described as a “child-rape assembly line” among sects of fundamentalist Jews. He cleared his throat. “I’m going to be graphic,” he said.

A member of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim fundamentalist branch of Orthodox Judaism, Nuchem designs and repairs mikvahs in compliance with Torah Law. The mikvah is a ritual Jewish bathhouse used for purification. Devout Jews are required to cleanse themselves in the mikvah on a variety of occasions: women must visit following menstruation, and men have to make an appearance before the High Holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Many of the devout also purify themselves before and after the act of sex, and before the Sabbath.

On a visit to Jerusalem in 2005, Rabbi Rosenberg entered into a mikvah in one of the holiest neighborhoods in the city, Mea She’arim. “I opened a door that entered into a schvitz,” he told me. “Vapors everywhere, I can barely see. My eyes adjust, and I see an old man, my age, long white beard, a holy-looking man, sitting in the vapors. On his lap, facing away from him, is a boy, maybe seven years old. And the old man is having anal sex with this boy.”

Rabbi Rosenberg paused, gathered himself, and went on: “This boy was speared on the man like an animal, like a pig, and the boy was saying nothing. But on his face—fear. The old man [looked at me] without any fear, as if this was common practice. He didn’t stop. I was so angry, I confronted him. He removed the boy from his penis, and I took the boy aside. I told this man, ‘It’s a sin before God, a mishkovzucher. What are you doing to this boy’s soul? You’re destroying this boy!’ He had a sponge on a stick to clean his back, and he hit me across the face with it. ‘How dare you interrupt me!’ he said. I had heard of these things for a long time, but now I had seen.”

The child sex abuse crisis in ultra-Orthodox Judaism, like that in the Catholic Church, has produced its share of shocking headlines in recent years. In New York, and in the prominent Orthodox communities of Israel and London, allegations of child molestation and rape have been rampant. The alleged abusers are schoolteachers, rabbis, fathers, uncles—figures of male authority. The victims, like those of Catholic priests, are mostly boys. Rabbi Rosenberg believes around half of young males in Brooklyn’s Hasidic community—the largest in the United States and one of the largest in the world—have been victims of sexual assault perpetrated by their elders. Ben Hirsch, director of Survivors for Justice, a Brooklyn organization that advocates for Orthodox sex abuse victims, thinks the real number is higher. “From anecdotal evidence, we’re looking at over 50 percent. It has almost become a rite of passage.”

Ultra-Orthodox Jews who speak out about these abuses are ruined and condemned to exile by their own community. Dr. Amy Neustein, a nonfundamentalist Orthodox Jewish sociologist and editor of Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities and Child Sex Scandals, told me the story of a series of Hasidic mothers in Brooklyn she got to know who complained that their children were being preyed on by their husbands.

In these cases, the accused men “very quickly and effectively engage the rabbis, the Orthodox politicians, and powerful Orthodox rabbis who donate handsomely to political clubs.” The goal, she told me, is “to excise the mother from the child’s life.” Rabbinical courts cast the mothers aside, and the effects are permanent. The mother is “amputated.” One woman befriended by Dr. Neustein, a music student at a college outside New York, lost contact with all six of her children, including an infant she was breastfeeding at the time of their separation.

Rabbi Rosenberg inspects a ritual purification bath, known as a mikvah. In 2005, he witnessed a young boy being raped inside a similar bath.

Seven years ago, Rabbi Rosenberg started blogging about sex abuse in his community and opened a New York City hotline to field sex abuse complaints. He has posted appeals on YouTube, appeared on CNN, and given speeches across the US, Canada, Israel, and Australia. Today, he is the lone whistleblower among the Satmar. For this he is reviled, slandered, hated, feared. He receives death threats on a regular basis. In Yiddish and Hebrew newspapers, advertisements taken out by the self-described “great rabbis and rabbinical judges of the city of New York” have denounced him as “a stumbling block for the House of Israel,” “a public rebuker and preacher of ethics” who “persists in his rebelliousness” and whose “voice has been heard among many Jewish families, especially young people in their innocence… drawn to listen to his poisonous and revolting speeches.” Leaflets distributed in Williamsburg and Borough Park, the centers of ultra-Orthodoxy in Brooklyn, display his bearded face over the body of a writhing snake. “Corrupt Informer,” reads one of the leaflets, followed by the declaration that Rabbi Rosenberg’s “name should rot in hell forever. They should cut him off from all four corners of the earth.”

When Rabbi Rosenberg wants to bathe at a mikvah in Brooklyn to purify himself, none will have him. When he wants to go to synagogue, none will have him. “He is finished in the community, butchered,” said a fellow rabbi who would only talk anonymously. “No one will look at him, and those who will talk to him, they can’t let it be known. The pressure in our community, it’s incredible.”

The powerful men—and it is worth noting that this community is regulated by men only—who govern the world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism would rather their adherents be blind in their faith, their eyes closed to the horrors Rabbi Rosenberg is exposing. Like the Catholic establishment, the rabbinate seeks to cover up the crimes, quiet the victims, protect the abusers, and deflect potential criticism of their institutional practices. Those who speak out are vilified, and the faithful learn to shut their mouths. When the father of the seven-year-old boy whom Rabbi Rosenberg rescued from the Jerusalem bathhouse showed up to collect his son, he couldn’t believe his son had been raped. Trembling, terrified, he whisked his son away to get medical help, but was still too scared to raise a formal complaint. According to Ben and Survivors for Justice, “The greatest sin is not the abuse, but talking about the abuse. Kids and parents who step forward to complain are crushed.”

As for Rabbi Rosenberg, when he voiced his concerns to the rabbinate in Israel, he was brought up on charges by the mishmeres hatznuis, the archconservative Orthodox “modesty squad,” which regulates, often through threats of violence, proper moral conduct and dress in the relations between men and women. The modesty squad is a sort of Jewish Taliban. According to Rabbi Rosenberg, the rapist he caught in the act was a member of the modesty squad, which charged him with the unconscionable offense of having previously been seen walking down a street in Jerusalem with a married woman. “But it’s OK to molest children,” he adds.

The abuse and its cover-up are symptoms of wider political dysfunction—or, more precisely, symptoms of socially disastrous political control by religious elites.

“This isn’t a problem about a few aberrant cases or an old-fashioned community reluctant to talk to police about sexual matters,” said Michael Lesher, a practicing Jew who has investigated Orthodox sex abuse and represented abuse victims. “This is about a political economy that links Orthodox Judaism with other fundamentalist creeds and with aspects of right-wing ideologies generally. It’s an economy in which genuine religious values will never really rise to the top, so long as they’re tied to the poisonous priorities that elevate status and power over the basic human needs of the most vulnerable among us.”

Michael, who is completing a book on the topic, noted that the infamous Rabbi Elior Chen, convicted in 2010 in what was arguably Israel’s worst case of serial child abuse, is still defended in public statements by leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis. Among other legal and moral crimes, the rabbi forced his victims to eat feces, claiming that this cruelty was necessary to “purify” the children he abused.

According to Ben, the ultra-Orthodox community has never been as repressive as it is today. The repression, as he describes it, stems from the burden of having too many children. Huge families are encouraged: every child born to a Hasid is seen as “a finger in the eye of Hitler.” Ben also told me that the average family size among Williamsburg Hasidim is nine, and that some families include more than 15 children.

Mikvah Israel of Boro Park, one of the many mikvahs in Brooklyn that no longer accept Rabbi Rosenberg.

Families saddled with an increasing number of children soon enter into a cycle of poverty. There is simultaneously an extreme separation of the sexes, which is unprecedented in the history of the Hasidim. There is limited general education, to the point that most men in the community are educated only to the third grade, and receive absolutely no sexual education. No secular newspapers are allowed, and internet access is forbidden. “The men in the community are undereducated by design,” Ben said. “You have a community that has been infantilized. They have been trained not to think. It’s a sort of totalitarian control.”

The rabbis, dominating an ignorant and largely poverty-stricken flock, determine the fate of every individual in the community. Nothing is done without the consent of the rabbinical establishment. A man wants to buy a new car—he goes to the rabbi for counsel. A man wants to marry—the rabbi tells him whether or not he should marry a particular bride. As for the women, they don’t get to ask the rabbi anything. Their place is beneath contempt.

Michael told me that current Orthodox leadership, accruing wealth from the tithes of subservient followers, is “drifting to the right, politically as well as religiously.” Many rabbis in New York City have taken up the banner of neoliberalism. “Every English-language Orthodox publication I know embraced Romney during the 2012 elections, decried national health insurance, blamed liberals for bribing the lower classes,” he said. “In Orthodox society, just as in America at large, the financial mismatch between the elite and the rest of us is ominously large.”

Michael also notes that the problem is not confined to the extremists. “The same patterns of victim-blaming, covering up, idealizing the rabbis so that cover-ups aren’t even acknowledged, are found all across the spectrum of Orthodoxy,” he told me. “The Orthodox left was shamefully slow to react to Rabbi Baruch Lanner’s abuse or to the similar case of Rabbi Mordechai Elon.” Rabbi Lanner, a former New Jersey yeshiva high school principal, was found guilty in 2000 of sexually abusing dozens of teenage students over the decades of his tenure. Rabbi Elon, who had publicly denounced homosexuality, was convicted last August on two counts of forcible sexual assault on a male minor, following several years of reports of his abuse of young boys.

“I have children come to me with their parents, and the blood is coming out of the anus,” Rabbi Rosenberg told me when we met. “These are zombies for life. What are we to do?”

This of course is the key question, and no answers are forthcoming. Michael holds out little hope that the situation will change. “If Orthodox institutions continue on their current trajectory,” he said, “I’d say things could get worse before they get better.”

A few weeks after our interview, Rabbi Rosenberg was walking through the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn when an unidentified man rushed up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder, and threw a cup of bleach in his face. He went to the hospital with facial burns and was temporarily blinded. Such is the measure of justice among the Satmar that a once-respected rabbi, now amputated from the community, should find himself chemically burned on a street in a neighborhood considered holy.

Later Rabbi Rosenberg told me a story of being surrounded by young boys in Williamsburg. The boys cursed him, laughed at him, threatened him, and spat at him. He wondered how many of them would end up molested.

Feds: Navy Officers Traded Secrets for Prostitutes

KUTV.com | Stories - Feds: Navy Secrets Bought With Prostitutes

KUTV.com | Stories – Feds: Navy Secrets Bought With Prostitutes

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nicknamed “Fat Leonard,” the gregarious Malaysian businessman is well known by U.S. Navy commanders in the Pacific, where his company has serviced warships for 25 years.

But prosecutors in court papers say Leonard Francis worked his connections to obtain military secrets by lining up prostitutes, Lady Gaga tickets and other bribes for a U.S. commander, in a scandal reverberating across the Navy.

The accusations unfolding in a federal court case in San Diego signal serious national security breaches and corruption, setting off high-level meetings at the Pentagon with the threat that more people, including those of higher ranks, could be swept up as the investigation continues.

Navy commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz passed confidential information on ship routes to Francis’ Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA, according to the court documents.

Misiewicz and Francis moved Navy vessels like chess pieces, diverting aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships to Asian ports with lax oversight where Francis could inflate costs, according to the criminal complaint. The firm overcharged the Navy millions for fuel, food and other services it provided, and invented tariffs by using phony port authorities, the prosecution alleges.

“It’s pretty big when you have one person who can dictate where ships are going to go and being influenced by a contractor,” said retired Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, who has no direct knowledge of the investigation. “A lot of people are saying how could this happen?”

So far, authorities have arrested Misiewicz; Francis; his company’s general manager of global government contracts, Alex Wisidagama; and a senior Navy investigator, John Beliveau II. Beliveau is accused of keeping Francis abreast of the probe and advising him on how to respond in exchange for such things as luxury trips and prostitution services. All have pleaded not guilty. Defense attorneys declined to comment.

Senior Navy officials said they believe that more people would likely be implicated in the scheme, but it’s too early to tell how many or how high this will go in the naval ranks. Other unnamed Navy personnel are mentioned in court documents as getting gifts from Francis.

Francis is legendary in military circles in that part of the world, said McKnight, who does not know him personally. He is known for extravagance. His 70,000-foot bungalow in an upscale Singapore neighborhood drew spectators yearly since 2007 to its lavish, outdoor Christmas decorations, which The Straits Times described as rivaling the island city-state’s main shopping street with replicas of snowmen, lighted towering trees, and Chinese and Japanese ornaments.

“He’s a larger-than-life figure,” McKnight said. “You talk to any captain on any ship that has sailed in the Pacific and they will know exactly who he is.”

Navy spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby said Navy Criminal Investigative Service agents initiated their probe in 2010, but declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

That same year, Misiewicz caught the world’s attention when he made an emotional return as a U.S. Naval commander to his native Cambodia, where he had been rescued as a child from the violence of the Khmer Rouge and adopted by an American woman. His homecoming was widely covered by international media.

Meanwhile, Francis was recruiting him for his scheme, according to court documents.

Misiewicz’s family went to a Lion King production in Tokyo with a company employee and was offered prostitution services. Within months, the Navy commander was providing Francis ship movement schedules for the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group and other ships, according to the criminal complaint.

Shortly after that, the manager wrote to Francis: “We got him!!:),” according to court documents.

Misiewicz would refer to Francis as “Big Brother” or “Big Bro” in emails from a personal account, while Francis would call him “Little Brother” or “Little Bro,” according to the complaint.

The company bilked the Navy out of $10 million in just one year in Thailand alone, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said.

In December 2011, the two exchanged emails about the schedule of the USS Blue Ridge, investigators say. According to court documents, Francis wrote Misiewicz: “Bro, Slide a Bali visit in after Jakarta, and Dili Timor after Bali.”

The complaint alleges Misiewicz followed through on the demands: In October 2012, the USS George Washington was scheduled to visit Singapore and instead was redirected by the Navy to Port Klang, Malaysia, one of Francis’ preferred ports where his company submitted fake contractor bids.

After Francis offered Misiewicz five tickets to a Lady Gaga concert in Thailand in 2012, Francis wrote: “Don’t chicken out bro we need u with us on the front lines,” according to court documents.

The federal government has suspended its contracts with Francis.

The defendants face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

Bodies of 92 Nigerian Migrant Workers Found Near Algerian Border

Niger migrants died from thirst, after stranding in Sahara desert. Women and children who tried to cross desert on foot to reach Algeria suspected to have been trafficked

Graves dug for stranded migrants in Sahara

Graves are dug for the migrants who died in the Sahara in October. Of this migrants’ group 21 who survived reached the nearest town, Arlit, in Niger.

The bodies of 92 people, almost all women and children, have been found in the Sahara desert. Rescuers said the people had died of thirst after their vehicle broke down during their attempt to reach Algeria from Niger.

An aid worker in Niger, a vast, landlocked country that straddles the desert between north and sub-Saharan Africa, told the Guardian that the scene was traumatic for the rescuers. They had discovered the bodies scattered in small groups around the desert.

“This is extremely difficult and the most horrible thing I have ever seen,” said Almoustapha Alhacen, a rescuer who lives in Arlit, a uranium mining town 50 miles away. “These are women and children; they were abandoned and left to die. We found them scattered over a large area, in small groups. Some were lying under trees, others exposed to the sun. Sometimes we found a mother and her children. Some were children alone.”

“They were left there for so long that their bodies are decomposed. Some of the bodies are still there.”

The group was discovered after survivors reached Arlit on foot. Local experts said that the people were victims of human trafficking and were believed to have died two weeks ago as they tried to walk 12 miles in scorching sun to reach a well after the lorry they were travelling in broke down leaving them stranded.

Sources in Niger said that the group, who began their perilous journey across the desert in late September, was comprised of local people from Zinder, the second largest city in southern Niger, close to the border with Nigeria.

“We think that all these people are from the villages around Zinder,” said Alhacen. “But until the investigation is finished, we cannot know all the details. It is very common for migrants to travel through this part of Niger. We have people from Nigeria and Burkina Faso, as well as people from Niger. They are trying to reach Libya and Algeria.”

One security expert stressed that the group were not economic migrants but victims of trafficking.

Moussa Akfar, a security expert based in Niamey, Niger’s capital, said: “This was in fact a case of poor people and children who were being trafficked to Algeria. There is an inquiry underway but we know that this was trafficking because economic migrants go to Libya – in Libya you find people of all nationalities, from Nigeria, Cameroon and other countries, heading to Europe.

“In this case all the victims were Nigerien from Zinder, and they were being trafficked. The questions that have to be asked now is how officials on road checkpoints did not alert the authorities about this group. There is endemic corruption at work.”

Details are still emerging about what happened to the group. The discovery of the 92 people – they were known to be 32 women and 48 children among them, reports said – comes after a further 35  bodies were found this week.

The two groups were believed to be of the same set of migrants who were travelling north  aboard two lorries in an attempt to reach Algeria.

They died in October, only six miles from the border between Niger and Algeria, after one of their two vehicles broke down and left them stranded as it headed off looking for replacement parts.

Niger security sources told the local press that 21 had survived, including two who had walked across the desert to Arlit, the nearest town and site of a plant for the French nuclear company Areva.

A further 19 who continued on their journey to Algeria and reached the town of Tamaresset, in southern Algeria, were turned away and repatriated back to Niger, local press reported.

The route taken across Niger’s desert, which often begins in the southern town of Zinder and then proceeds through desert to the town of Agadez, is a well-known traffickers’ route for transportations to north Africa.

Beyond the Sahara some people then try to board boats to Europe, while others end up in Algeria seeking work.

“Zinder and Agadez, these are the main migrant routes, as well as human trafficking routes in Niger,” said Johnson Bien-Aime from the children’s development organisation Plan Niger. “We know that trafficking is happening every day in these areas, but unfortunately, until now, nothing has been done about it.”

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and has been rocked by repeated food crises in recent years. Last year Save the Children termed Niger the worst place in the world to be a mother amid its warnings that continuing poverty levels were driving people to undertake life-threatening journeys to higher income nations.

While many in Niger said that the October deaths were linked to trafficking, Algeria being the intended destination, Rhissa Feltou, the mayor of Arlit, said the group could have been trying to reach Europe.

“They were probably heading to the Mediterranean to try to go to Europe, or else to Algeria to work,” said Feltou.

Rescue workers who found the bodies said the group could have included a party from an Islamic madrasa school, given the large number of children and an elderly man among the victims who appeared to be an Islamic teacher.

The plight of migrants from Africa and the Middle East is increasingly under the spotlight after a series of tragedies in which large numbers have died trying to reach Europe, including the 365 who perished off the Italian island of Lampedusa on 3 October when their boat capsized.

Tens of thousands of west African migrants, many of whom have paid as much as $3,000 to be taken across the desert from Niger to north Africa, arrive in Europe by sea each year, according to the United Nations.

“Sadly this is a typical migration that has been going on over last number of years,” said John Ging, from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “We estimate that 80,000 make that journey every year from the Sahara, and basically they are economic migrants so impoverished they have to make these hazardous journeys.”