Father of late Saudi sisters rejects suicide conclusion

Last week, a medical examiner said that the sisters had committed suicide by walking into the Hudson River in 2018.

Rotana, left, and Tala, right, were found dead in October 2018 on the banks of the Hudson River [Handout:NYPD via The Associated Press]
Rotana, left, and Tala, right, were found dead in October 2018 on the banks of the Hudson River [Handout:NYPD via The Associated Press]

The father of two young Saudi women whose bodies were found bound together in New York last October has dismissed a police assessment that they committed suicide and said marks he saw on their faces indicate they were beaten before their deaths.

Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 23, who had previously lived in Virginia, were found along the rocky Manhattan shore of the Hudson River with duct tape around their waists and ankles.

A New York Police Department official has said they likely entered the water alive and were said to have preferred suicide over returning to Saudi Arabia.

Their mother told detectives the day before the bodies were discovered that the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, had ordered the family to leave the United States because the daughters had applied for political asylum, the Associated Press reported in October, citing police.

An embassy spokeswoman denied that at the time.

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New York City Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson said in a statement last week that her office “determined that the death of the Farea sisters was the result of suicide, in which the young women bound themselves together before descending into the Hudson River”.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has come under intense scrutiny after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last year and the flight to Thailand of an 18-year-old woman who alleged abuse by her family, which they denied.

Among the Saudi restrictions on women is the requirement that they have the permission of a male “guardian” to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

Father denies claims

The Saudi news site Sabq published an interview on Monday with the women’s father, who was not named, denying police claims that they had been subjected to physical abuse, and accusing a Virginia investigator of abducting the women and blocking him from retrieving them.

“He told us that he had withdrawn the report and placed the girls in a safe place,” Sabq quoted the father as saying.

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“We tried to communicate later with this investigator, but he refused to respond. He asked us to go to the court on the grounds that the case had been transferred there, but when we went, we did not find any trace of the case,” the father added.

He said when he viewed his daughters’ bodies at the morgue before taking them back to Saudi Arabia, “we found bruises filling both their faces… especially the younger one, which confirms they were heavily beaten before they died”.

The New York City medical examiner’s office, Fairfax, Virginia police, and the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Women’s March 2019: Thousands across the US march for third year!

Women and supporters across the US march against Trump amid government shutdown and controversy within the movement.

Washington, DC – Sherry Cain, a 78-year-old Kentucky native, said she’s lived a long time and has seen a lot of change in the world, “but never anything like this in our country”.

That’s why she brought her family to Washington, DC on Saturday for the third annual Women’s March.

“I am just so fearful for their future if continue on this road,” she told Al Jazeera, pointing to the government shutdown, US President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and what she called the “abdication of Congress of their duties”.

“We have to do something,” she said.

Four generations of the Cain family – Sherry, her daughter, granddaughter and great grandson – joined thousands of women and their supporters who marched nationwide.

This year’s march came against the backdrop of a partial government shutdown, now in its 29th day, that started after Trump refused to back down on his demand for more than $5bn in funding for a wall on the US southern border.

The forecast of rain and snow in Washington, DC, on Saturday, combined with the National Park Service limited snow removal services due to the shutdown prompted DC organisers to change the route of the march, according to local media. Participants started at Freedom Plaza, a few blocks from the White House, instead of the National Mall, as initially planned.

Sherry Cain brought her daughters, granddaughter and great-grandson to the march [Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath/Al Jazeera]

Protesters marched past the Trump International Hotel chanting, “All for one and one for all, stop the shutdown, stop the wall.”

At one point, a woman released a Trump baby balloon into the air and the crowd started waving, cheering and yelling, “good-bye!”

New US Congress makes history with record number of women

Some held signs that called for Trump to be impeached, others emphasised the need to believe survivors of sexual assault and rape, and many demanded an end to the shutdown.

Raquel Chee held a sign that read, “See me. I am still here.”

“We are here to tell everybody …that we’re not going anywhere,” said Chee, a member of the Window Rock Navajo Nation in Arizona.

She told Al Jazeera she brought her four children with her to the march to give a voice to her brother, uncles and and murdered or missing indigenous people across North America.

“We are here to speak out for them, remember them and bring light on the issue that our relatives go missing and murdered all the time,” she said.

Raquel Chee said she’s march for all the indigenous people who have been murdered or gone missing [Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath/Al Jazeera]

Historic gains

The Women’s March movement began after the 2016 election of Trump. The day after his inauguration in January 2017, millions worldwide marched for women’s rights.

According to organisers, this year’s march focused on the success of the 2018 midterm elections, which saw a record number of women run and get elected to office. The first Muslim women, Native American women, and youngest woman were recently sworn into Congress.

The movement also hopes to turn its attention to the presidential race in 2020.

Thousands marched past the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, chanting ‘stop the shutdown, stop the wall’ [Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath/Al Jazeera]

In major cities, however, participants held separate marches due to controversy within the Women’s March movement.

In November, Teresa Shook, one of the Women’s March co-founders, accused other organisers of steering “the Movement away from its true course”, referring to allegations of anti-Semitic ties directed at Linda Sarsour, who criticises the US’s policy towards Israel, and Tamika Mallory, who maintains an association with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam.

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In a Facebook post, Shook called on Sarsour, Mallory, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez to step down and “to let others lead who can restore the faith in the Movement and its original intent”.

The four organisers denied the allegations, but Sarsour said in a statement that the movement “should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism”.

Since then several local marches and activists have sought to distance themselves from the national movement.

Despite the controversy, thousands of women showed up to marches on Saturday.

This year’s march came after a year of historic gains for women in politics in the US [Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath/Al Jazeera]

Although the number is far less than the first march in 2017, 19-year-old Howard University student Ciana Moore said it’s still important to continue standing up for everyone has been affected by Trump’s presidency.

“It’s amazing to see all different types of women, all ages, people from all over coming together,” she told Al Jazeera as the Washington, DC march was just getting under way.

“It’s really empowering to be here for each other.”

SOURCE: by / AL JAZEERA NEWS

Maine: Woman’s March 2019

Marchers in Maine marched in Portland, Bethel, Eastport, Machias, and Brunswick.

PORTLAND, Maine — The 2019 Women’s March Maine brought thousands of people together in solidarity to advocate for women all over the state.

Marchers in Maine marched in Portland, Bethel, Eastport, Machias, and Brunswick.

In Portland there were hundreds lining Congress, High, and Pearl streets.

Women's March Maine 2019

Spokesperson for the Women’s March Maine Sarah Gaba says, “We’ve been organizing locally to advocate for the policies that matter to us, and impact women’s lives, and we’re flooding the streets in solidarity with our sisters in DC to remind the country that Maine resists”.

Author: Lydia Libby, Newscenter Maine

In Rebuke of Trump, Democratic Women Help Seize House & 7 Governorships in Historic Midterm

STORY NOVEMBER 07, 2018

In a historic midterm election, Democrats have seized control of the House of Representatives, flipping more than two dozen seats. This gives Democrats subpoena power for the first time since President Donald Trump was elected two years ago. While the Democrats will control the House, the Republicans picked up two more seats in the Senate. The midterms were a groundbreaking election for women. At least 100 women will serve in the U.S. House for the first time in U.S. history, including the first two Native American women and the first two Muslim women.