Thursday, April 17, 2014

THE MIDWEST BLACK PANTHER 22 AND THE NEVER ENDING WAR ON THE BLACK LIBERATION MOVEMENT



And the saddest thing is that so many have spent decades locked down in those hell-holes as a result of similar nonsensical charges!!
        -----Pete O'Neal, former leader, Kansas City Chapter, Black Panther Party, from Tanzania



This is a story that is more than forty years old, but didn't come to the light of day until this week.  

I remember when I was under investigation, under indictment, and in prison  for a bombing Conspiracy in Kansas City back in the 70s watching with a certain degree of humor the obvious competition and jealousy between various federal and state law enforcement agencies.  At the federal level it was the ATF, FBI, and even the Marshal Service who seemed to resent each other almost as much as they hated the likes of us.  Everyone wanted the glory.  Everyone wanted to be seen as THE agency.  Everyone wanted the TV program to be about them.

It seemed funny.

It wasn't though, not really.

Now, we learn that the ATF in a bid to outdo the FBI and become the big cheese in bombing cases in the summer of 1970 tried to create out of the air a giant conspiracy involving various Black Panthers from across the Midwest, from Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa.  The Midwest 22 were to be the show trial for these guys.  

It didn't happen.  

We learned about this from  research and a subsequent disclosure to the Examiner of an old case file from the ATF on April 14th of this year.  

The Midwest, like every other part of the country at the time (1970) had been the scene of numerous bombings, mostly unsolved.  ATF blamed the Black Panthers.  Amongst those targeted were Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa from Omaha (These two men, the Omaha Two, were eventually charged with an Omaha bombing and have been sitting in prison unjustly - as all the evidence shows - for more than forty years now).  Others targeted included Pete O'Neal and Tommy Robinson from Kansas City, Archie Simmons and Charles Knox from Des Moines, a sixteen year old from Minneapolis and many others.

Supposedly the case never reached an indictment because of "a trend in the judiciary...away from major complex conspiracies."  Maybe, the fact that the case was a figment of  the imagination of a bunch of agents (led by ATF goons in Omaha)  also had something to do with it.  Perhaps, the fact that by 1972 when it was decided not to prosecute the Midwest 22 too much had been made public about just how nefarious the State had been in its war on dissent. Perhaps, the Justice Department figured out they were going to spend a lot of money, get a lot of bad publicity themselves, and convict no one had something to do with it as well. We will never know.

What we do know is that many, many other fighters for Black Liberation were indicted, were jailed, and still are.  We do know that.  We also know that many were murdered.  We also know about COINTELPRO.  We also know that no one who was responsible for this massive assault upon the Panthers (and others involved in the struggle for Black Liberation, in the struggles of other people of color, and even, holy white skin privilege Batman, some white radicals and revolutionaries) has really ever faced justice themselves.  That is the crime here.


Ted Glick wrote of COINTELPRO's aims and its targets,



"COINTELPRO" was the FBI's secret program to undermine the popular upsurge which swept the country during the 1960s. Though the name stands for "Counterintelligence Program," the targets were not enemy spies. The FBI set out to eliminate "radical" political opposition inside the US. When traditional modes of repression (exposure, blatant harassment, and prosecution for political crimes) failed to counter the growing insurgency, and even helped to fuel it, the Bureau took the law into its own hands and secretly used fraud and force to sabotage constitutionally- protected political activity. Its methods ranged far beyond surveillance, and amounted to a domestic version of the covert action for which the CIA has become infamous throughout the world.


The most intense operations were directed against the Black movement, particularly the Black Panther Party. This resulted from FBI and police racism, the Black community's lack of material resources for fighting back, and the tendency of the media--and whites in general--to ignore or tolerate attacks on Black groups. It also reflected government and corporate fear of the Black movement because of its militance, its broad domestic base and international support, and its historic role in galvanizing the entire Sixties' upsurge. Many other activists who organized against US intervention abroad or for racial, gender or class justice at home also came under covert attack. The targets were in no way limited to those who used physical force or took up arms. Martin Luther King, David Dellinger, Phillip Berrigan and other leading pacifists were high on the list, as were projects directly protected by the Bill of Rights, such as alternative newspapers.

The Black Panthers came under attack at a time when their work featured free food and health care and community control of schools and police, and when they carried guns only for deterrent and symbolic purposes. It was the terrorism of the FBI and police that eventually provoked the Panthers to retaliate with the armed actions that later were cited to justify their repression.


In fact, according to a PBS documentary on Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton   of the 295 documented actions taken by COINTELPRO to disrupt Black organizations, 233 were directed against the Black Panther Party.



We learned about Cointelpro, by the way after a number of activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania looking for draft records and the like, and made off with loads of documents.  They discovered that amongst the documents were those  that revealed this massive abuse of power.


The following is from The Final Call.



America's War Against Black Power

BY CHARLENE MUHAMMAD -NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT- 



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(FinalCall.com) - Human rights activists are calling on the government to grant amnesty and unconditional freedom to all political prisoners incarcerated because of COINTELPRO, a secret federal law enforcement program that destroyed Black and dissident organizations in the 1960s and 1970s.



Men and women who sacrificed their lives so others could enjoy civil liberties and human rights in America are now aging and suffering failing health as they languish in prison, some for 40 years, and many in solitary confinement cells, unfit even for dogs, said their advocates.

It is imperative that those they fought for remember and fight for them, said the activists.
J. Edgar Hoover, former head of the FBI, began the covert, illegalCounterIntelligence Program in 1956 to destroy militant organizations.

The National Jericho Movement, which advocates for political prisoners inside the United States, wants emergency congressional hearings on the impact and continuing legacy of America’s domestic war against soldiers in the Black Liberation Struggle. It also wants political prisoners released and some activists want the freedom fighters compensated for their unjust suffering.

“The effort to try to expose the horrible impact of the FBI’s CounterIntelligence Program has been an ongoing thing,” said Jihad Abdulmumit, chair of the National Jericho Movement. That exposure undergirds Jericho’s push for the congressional hearings. Although Mr. Hoover announced in 1971 that COINTELPRO had ended after the anonymous Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI exposed the program, secret government operations, set-ups, stool pigeon operations and political assassinations continue today, activists warned.

“COINTELPRO by any other name is still COINTELPRO. … Homeland Security as an institution of the United States security now, the Patriot Act, the Anti-Terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act I and II—all of this now has really led up to still what we have today as a CounterIntelligence Program and the War on Terrorism,” Mr. Abdulmumit told The Final Call.
The online petition, “Jericho: Congressional Hearing on Cointelpro’s Legacy and Continuing Impact,” is part of Jericho’s attempts to educate people and have the U.S. government revisit COINTELPRO’s continuing legacy.
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In this April 6, 2005 file photo, Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt speaks during funeral services for attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. at the West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles.
In the future, the group plans to deliver the petitions to Congressional Black Caucus members and the record of a 2011 Peoples’ Tribunal Hearings on COINTELPRO. Organizers hope the campaign will inspire Black Caucus members to speak up for political prisoners. They also hope to send 100,000 signatures to the Obama administration before he leaves office.


The Time and What Must Be Done

In the 1960s and 1970s era of COINTELPRO, and actually going back to the 1930s, Black leaders, activists and the community knew they were under attack and fought back, often through self-help and independent education campaigns, according to Mr. Abdulmumit.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad introduced a Black Self-Help Program and Economic Blueprint to promote independence through pooling resources and building businesses. He opened schools to educate Muslims and children in the Black community. The Black Panthers started a free breakfast program for children and armed self-defense programs in response to deadly police brutality. 

Today in the “age of Obama,” the lines are blurred, Mr. Abdulmumit noted. The painful question Blacks must raise is how did they, after making so much progress in conscious and collective action, let that culture slip right from their hands? he noted. 

Black leaders have become beguiled by materialism, the former slave master’s system and they’ve taken their eyes off the future, said Mr. Abdulmumit.

A plan by Senators Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sought $30 million to arrest and imprison 18,000 so-called members of the Gangster Disciples street organization and were opposed notably by Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church on Chicago’s Southside.

“That you would marshal the forces of the federal government, and come into our community and sweep 18,000 so-called members of the Gangster Disciples—and you’ve already carved out a prison that you could put them in?  How many of you have ever sat down to think of how you can solve the problem by creating jobs and employment for the young people in the inner-cities of America, particularly Chicago and Los Angeles?” Minister Farrakhan asked.

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Assata Shakur

The proposal out of Chicago absolutely speaks to the evolution of COINTELPRO, Mr. Abdulmumit argued. There is no revolutionary culture as such in the U.S. as was in the 60s and the 70s, but there is still a massive powder keg and that’s Black youth today, he said. “The effort of the government and the forces that be has always been to make sure that this powder keg mass, its consciousness is never awakened, so what’s happened is that vacuum that’s been created is the demise of a lot of these revolutionary organizations either through death or imprisonment over time.”

We want freedom

Some political prisoners targeted by COINTELPRO are more well-known than others, partly because of efforts like the FBI’s million-dollar bounty against Assata Shakur, who is exiled in Cuba. Ms. Shakur, a Black Liberation Army member, has been living in exile since 1984 after she escaped from prison in 1979. Ms. Shakur, formerly known as Joanne Chesimard was convicted of murdering a New Jersey State Trooper in 1977, but she has maintained her innocence. Her supporters have denounced the FBI’s $2 million bounty and listing her as an armed and dangerous terrorist.

The late Geronimo “ji-Jaga” Pratt, a Vietnam War veteran and high-ranking leader of the Black Panther Party, served 27 years in prison and after a long-fought legal battle forced his release in 1997. His wrongful conviction for murdering a White couple was shown to be a set-up tied to a government informant.

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Imam Jamil al-Amin
There’s Jalil Muntaqim, co-founder of the Jericho Amnesty Movement, a former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member. He was convicted of killing two police officers in New York and has spent 42 years in prison. Supporters are pushing an online petition to Tina Stanford, chairwoman of the New York Board of Parole, seeking his parole this year. 


There’s Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin whom supporters argue was wrongfully convicted in the 2000 shooting of two Fulton County deputies, one died, in Atlanta. He is serving life in a federal Super-Max underground prison in Colorado. 

The incarceration of Imam Al-Amin, former Black Panther leader H. Rap Brown, represents COINTELPRO finally “getting their man” in a ridiculous case where someone confessed to the crime, but the FBI will not acknowledge the confession, Mr. Abdulmumit said.

Nearly six months after his 70th birthday, Russell Maroon Shoatz was recently released from solitary confinement under court order and after the involvement of United Nations Rapporteur Juan Mendez on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment.  His release ended more than 22 consecutive years in isolation. The former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member was convicted of murdering a cop in Pennsylvania and sentenced to life imprisonment.

On December 7, 2011, prosecutors announced they were dropping their quest for the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and former Black Panther, convicted in 1981 on charges of killing a police officer in Philadelphia. 
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Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mr. Abu-Jamal was removed from death row after his case was taken to the Supreme Court on appeal. He’s now jailed for life without the possibility of parole, but his supporters remain vigilant in their fight for his release and exoneration.


Marshall Eddie Conway, another former Black Panther Party member, was recently released due to a faulty jury instruction after serving 44 years in prison in solitary confinement. “An error in the jury instructions is a far step away from saying that Eddie Conway is a freedom fighter, which he is in our book, and he should be released on that alone,” Mr. Abdulmumit said.

“Our position is that we should be released on the fact of we were political prisoners and victims of this counterintelligence, victims of these conditions. We are freedom fighters … just like Nelson Mandela. Just like people are celebrating him as a hero now, that’s how our political prisoners should be treated.”

Many feel that’s naïve or unachievable but it’s Jericho’s position and battle, and God knows best, he continued.

Activists say getting fighters who are dying in prison out remains paramount, especially cases based on contradictions and injustices thanks to lawyers like Bob Boyle, Soffiyah Elijah, Lynne Stewart and others. 

Herman Wallace, diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, died at age 71, less than a week after being released from prison. He was one of the Angola 3 convicted of stabbing a prison guard.  He served more than four tortuous decades in solitary confinement in a Louisiana prison, but maintained his innocence until his death. Mr. Wallace and Albert Woodfox said they were targeted for helping to set up a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party at Angola State Prison in 1971. International supporters of the Angola 3 are still fighting for Mr. Woodfox’s release.

Activist Efia Nwangaza, director of the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination in Greenville, S.C., feels America must not only remedy wrongs against political prisoners, but also compensate victims and survivors of government plots and targeting.

Jericho’s list includes hundreds and many are Muslims, according to Mr. Abdulmumit. It also includes Native American freedom fighter Leonard Peltier,  Oscar Lopez Rivera and other Puerto Rican nationalists, as well as some White anti-imperialists, he said.

“It’s important that we keep that challenge before the U.S. government kind of the way that the Jewish community keeps before the public the wrongs that it suffered at the hands of the Germans and its holocaust. We must be as vigilant in reminding our oppressors of the wrongs of our holocaust or Maafa as we call it.”

Unfortunately, the often apathetic response to U.S. political prisoners, the notion they must have done something wrong if they’re behind bars, is symptomatic of the pathology living under White Supremacy engenders, Ms. Nwangaza said.

But what’s worse, she continued, is most Blacks aren’t aware of COINTELPRO or the existence of political prisoners. Many are blinded by a harsh, daily economic, social and political struggle to survive, others embrace willful ignorance, she noted.

“It’s sort of like the question of reparations. As we get generations away from the actual violation of the holocaust of enslavement, the less we know about it and therefore the less we are outraged by it and the less we feel entitled to compensation for it,” Ms. Nwangaza continued.

Most aging political prisoners are enduring excessive sentences, disproportionately held in solitary confinement, suffering from severe illnesses and prisons are not responding to their needs, activists added.
There must also be an investigation into deaths that occurred during the COINTELPRO-civil rights-Black Power era, activists said.

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Harry Farrell peers out from between Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale in a photo that became a Black Panther poster. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

“Who killed Bobby Hutton? And whatever was done about that?” asked Ms. Nwangaza. Bobby Hutton was a teenage member of Panther Party killed in California. Likewise the 1969 killings of Chicago Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and the relationship to the larger national campaign of the U.S. government must never be forgotten, she said. The dynamic leader Hampton and comrade Clark died in a hail of bullets fired into their West Side apartment. The Panthers were asleep, drugged by a sedative put in their drinks by an informant, activists have long charged. “While authorities claimed the Panthers had opened fire on the police who were there to serve a search warrant for weapons, evidence later emerged that told a very different story: that the FBI, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the Chicago police conspired to assassinate Fred Hampton,” said Juan Gonzalez in a broadcast of the news program Democracy Now in 2009. The program marked the 40th anniversary of Black Panther Fred Hampton’s death.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

JUAN VAZQUEZ GUZMAN LIVES: A CALL FOR GLOBAL ACTION



On 24 April, 2013, Juan Vázquez Guzmán, indigenous Tzeltal, aged only 32, father of two small children aged four and seven, human rights defender and much-loved community leader, was gunned down in the doorway of his home. The territory and community for which Juan gave his life was the communal landholding (ejido) of San Sebastián Bachajón, in the jungle region of the state of Chiapas in South-East Mexico. 

Juan was the Secretary General of the adherents to the Sixth in San Sebastián Bachajón, Chilón municipality.

At the time of his assassination neighbors said  that Juan was attacked just when he was arriving at his home, and the attackers escaped aboard a red double-cabin pickup truck, which took the highway that leads to the Sitalá municipal headquarters.

Describing what led up to his murder the  Wellington, New Zealand Zapatista Support Committee wrote:



Since 2007, the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón have suffered violence and repression at the hands of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)-backed authorities and paramilitary organizations. Their resistance to the take-over of Tzeltal traditional lands for transnational projects, particularly the site of the Agua Azul waterfalls which the ejidatarios have been responsibly and sustainably managing for many years, has placed them squarely in the firing line of those who seek to dispossess them of their lands for commercial gain.

Concerted attempts to break up the community and its resistance began in 2009, with the detention of eight ejidatarios and adherents to the Other Campaign by state and federal police, and the arrest and vicious assault of Ricardo Lagunes at a PRI paramilitary checkpoint after he left a meeting in Bachajón. Two years later in 2011, 117 ejidatarios were arbitrarily detained by police during an eviction attempt at the toll booth at the entrance to the Agua Azul area. Ten, including Pérez Álvaro, remained political prisoners for an extended period of time.

Physical violence and repression have been coupled with legal and judicial abuses, including court decisions denying the rights of ejidatarios, and their arrests and eviction in 2011 enabling authorities to take control of the collectively-owned lands.

The ongoing assaults on Bachajón autonomy culminated on the night of April 24, 2013 in the assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán in the doorway of his home.

Last July, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) released a statement in which it stressed that,

Juan Vázquez together with thousands of ejidatarios who adhere to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle have distinguished themselves through their struggle for the defense of territory, despite the reprisals of the Mexican government by means of the legal repression of their process toward autonomy.  It is important to stress that before the murder of Juan Vázquez, a branch of the large tree of the conscious and dignified struggle of the Ch’ol and Tseltal peoples of the region had been cut.  However, this branch has left its remnants and pathway which has eased the process and sprouts elesewhere in other struggles and comrades who join the defense of their people in the construction of autonomy and self-determination for life: a life that flows through the rivers, the wind of the jungle, smell of dignity that is inspired in each breath taken by humanity.”

On March 21st, 2014, Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, aged only 22, was shot down.  At the time of his death, he held the post of regional Coordinator of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle for the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón and was the father of a baby aged six months.


A Communiqué from the Ejido San Sebastian Bachajon, Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, Chiapas Mexicoa read in part,


They, those from above, think they know how to damage our rebellion, they are almost certain that by ravaging our compañerxs, tearing up their bodies, they will spread fear and terror and we will stop fighting. We, those from below, we think that dignity, strength, and fighting in the defence of the reproduction of life have deep roots, and cannot be finished off with bullets because the body is something other, it is a collective body, remembering our dead not with nostalgia but by naming them when walking in confrontation against the bad government and the economic groups who exploit, dispossess, despise and repress us.

Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano was killed yesterday, March 21st, in the official municipality of Chilón in the state of Chiapas, trying to stain the spring with blood. They pierced his body with more than twenty bullets of power, bullets of profit, bullets of deception, the bullets of the war against the people which does not end. But they have not killed his history of struggle.

Since we founded the communities of Nah Choj and Virgen de Dolores in 2010, our organization has been harassed at various times by the army and state preventive police, threatening us with eviction because of pressures from those who say they are the owners of the property, among them a former municipal president of Chilón, fomenting division and buying the consciences of some ex compañeros with their crumbs, like they did with Carmen Aguilar Gómez and his son of the same name who, when he sold out to Noé Castañón León, the Secretary of Government of Juan Sabines Guerrero, organized for the eviction of our ticket booth on February 2, 2011 and dispossessed us of our lands in complicity with the ex ejidal commissioner of San Sebastián Bachajón Francisco Guzmán Jiménez (alias el goyito).


The bad government wants to finish us off completely by assassinating our compañeros, like they did with Juan Vázquez Guzmán on April 24, 2013, using their paramilitary gunmen, who with complete impunity, whether by night or in the full light of day, are capable of vilely murdering our compañeros who are working and struggling to construct a world in which other worlds fit, and who are daily resisting the attacks of the capitalist system which wants to make us disappear so they can take over our mother earth, water, rivers, waterfalls and all that will serve to make them more money at the cost of our lives and suffering.

The real criminals, assassins and corrupt ones are the party politicians who, despite reaching their position through fraud and buying votes, consider that they are the owners of all that exists in our lands. Every day they want to get richer and it doesn’t matter how many indigenous they have to kill to achieve this. Like the current mayor of Chilón, Leonardo Guirao Aguilar, a member of the Green Ecologist Party, and one of the authors of the dispossession of our lands, because he financed the weapons of the group led by Carmen Aguilar Gómez the elder, Juan Alvaro Gómez and Manuel Jiménez who evicted our compañeros from the ticket booth in February 2011.

There is now a call for a worldwide action this month in the names of these men and to demonstrate that there is nothing that the State, Global Capital, or anyone else can do to stop the struggle of the world's multitudes.  At the same time the action will demand justice for the deaths of these two men, and many others like them.




The following is from The Flower of the World Will Not Die.


Call for the “Two Weeks of Worldwide Action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!”


From Thursday, April 24th to Thursday, May 8th, 2014
bachajon circulo_Mesa de trabajo 26 copia 6 English round large 
To our sisters and brothers of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón:
To our compañer@s adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón
Jungle:
To our Zapatista sisters and brothers:
To the people of Mexico and the world:
To the independent media:
To the Committees of the True Word:
Movement for Justice in El Barrio, Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group, the Committee of the True Word from Kolkata, India and the Committee of the True Word from Alisal propose that we join together our hands, our voices and our struggles to carry out the

“Two Weeks of Worldwide Action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón
struggle continues!” from Thursday, April 24th to Thursday, May 8th, 2014
This initiative is supported by the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, adherents to the Sixth.
Compañeras and Compañeros:
We send you greetings and embraces from New York, Dorset, Kolkata and Alisal.
On April 24th, 2014, it will be a year since the cruel and cowardly assassination of our beloved compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán, activist, community leader and spokesperson for the indigenous Tzeltal community of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, Mexico. He was killed by six gunshots in the doorway of his home.
Still there is no justice. There has been no effective investigation into his murder, and Juan’s killers and those who ordered his execution remain safe in impunity. Meanwhile the efforts continue to dispossess Juan’s people, the ejidatarios adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle from the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón.
The three levels of government, with their army, their police, their allies in transnational corporations, their locally-funded paramilitary groups and their lackeys from the political parties, do not cease their attacks and their plundering, using deceptions and lies, threats,violence, imprisonment, torture and even murder to achieve their ambition to seize the ancestral common lands of the ejido in order to construct a luxury tourist complex beside the beautiful waterfalls of Agua Azul.
Now there has been a second assassination, another vile attempt to force our compañer@s to give up their just and dignified struggle and resistance.  On March 21st, 2014, Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, aged only 22, was shot down with over twenty bullets. Juan Carlos worked in the construction of autonomy in the recuperated land of the Virgen de Dolores. He was a regional coordinator of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón. No one has been arrested or charged with his murder. We respond with sorrow, but also with rage.
We demand justice! The killers must not remain unpunished! No more impunity!
Compañeras and Compañeros,
Although the war against the people does not end, neither does the resistance of those from below.
Despite the continuing racist repression directed against the original people of these lands, despite displacement and occupation, aggression and murder, the tireless struggle of the indigenous Tzeltal people of Bachajón to defend the basis of their life, the mother earth, the land and the territory, also has no end.
The ejidatarios will not give up their common lands, which they inherited from their grandparents, so they can be used for the building of hotels and golf courses, roads and helipads. They will not allow the mother earth and her richness of nature, jungle and water, to be destroyed by the greed and rapacity of those who would be lords of all.
For our sisters and brothers in struggle from San Sebastián Bachajón, Juan Vázquez Guzmán still lives, he is still there beside them, fighting, so they can never give up their resistance. He often told them that their struggle was “for the life of the people and to continue being what we are”.
Juan Vázquez Guzmán denounced repression and corruption everywhere, and he fought for the rights of his people and for the liberation of their prisoners. On a national and international level he made people aware of the threat to the lands of Bachajón from those from above and their plans to build an “eco” tourist megaproject.
His words had strength and his vision and heart were free from fear in the struggle for the defense of the territory. We remember his warm smile, his contagious laughter, his love for the land and the people and his commitment to the creation of another world.
But the capitalists, the governments and the corporations, in their greed for more money, more plunder, more profit, plan to destroy the whole of the mother earth, and to rip out the heart of the planet. They want to turn the water, the trees, the earth, the air into commodities. It is only the organized resistance of the autonomous communities, from below and to the left, against the wars and the destruction of our natural resources, which can save the mother earth for our children.
Compañeras and Compañeros,
We call on all people of good heart and all the children of the earth who strive, day after day, to construct another, better, world, one with freedom, justice, respect and dignity, each according to their own customs, ways, times, and geographies:
1.     To carry out the “Two Weeks of Worldwide Action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!” from Thursday, April 24th to Thursday, May 8th, 2014
2.     To show our solidarity with the just and dignified struggle against dispossession of the women, men, children and elderly of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón
3.     To screen the film Bachajón – Dispossession is death, Life is resistance, available in Spanish and with English subtitles, in as many countries and places and as many times as possible:
4.     To keep alive the memory of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and to commemorate  the anniversary of his savage assassination on April 24th, 2014, along with his compas, who here invite us to join them:
5.     To organize any other solidarity activities that you may choose, in your own places and according to your own different methods of struggle
We ask you to please let us know as soon as possible if you are able to accept our proposal and if you will be able to participate in the “Two Weeks of Worldwide Action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!” from Thursday, April 24th to Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Please confirm your participation by email to: laotrany@yahoo.com
Juan Vázquez Guzmán, beloved compa, we embrace you. We will always be thankful to you for having given so much inspiration to each of us in our own struggles.
You are the heart of your people, and you gave your life for your people.
Your life is like a seed of hope that is growing in the hearts of every child, woman, man and old person from San Sebastián Bachajón and in the hearts of compañeras and compañeros from around the world.
We believe that everyone should know of your dignified life and the dignified resistance of your people.
We demand a full investigation of your assassination, and punishment of those responsible.
Your voice will not be silenced, nor will the work of your heart be ended.
Juan Vázquez Guzmán, beloved compa and brother, guardian of the land, the struggle continues.

Land, Freedom and Justice for the Ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón!
Stop the aggressions against the adherents to the Sexta!
No more impunity!
No more forgetting!
Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives!
Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano Lives!
The Bachajón struggle continues!

With love and solidarity,
Movement for Justice in El Barrio, Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group, the Committee of the True Word from Kolkata, India and the Committee of the True Word from Alisal

For further information in English:
http://vivabachajon.wordpress.com/en-ingles/

Monday, April 14, 2014

MY PERSONAL COMMENTS ON THE WHITE SUPREMACIST MURDEROUS OUTRAGE IN KANSAS CITY



It is supposed to be theoretical Monday, but here in Kansas City it is not a day for much theory.  As you all know, yesterday a white supremacist by the name of Glenn Miller, Jr. apparently took time off from a drunken gambling spree at local casinos to drive out to Overland Park (about twenty minutes south and west of where I live in Kansas City) to kill himself some Jews.  The cowardly racist didn't even have the nerve to try and enter the building at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) or the Village Shalom assisted living and nursing home.  He stood in the parking lots of both buildings and opened fire instead.  At the JCC he killed  fourteen year old Reat Underwood and his grandfather William Corporon, both were Methodists.  Both were white.  He then headed over to Village Shalom where he killed Terri LaManno, a Catholic and, also white. Reat had gone to the Jewish Community Center on Sunday with his grandfather, physician William Corporon, 69, to try out for the KC SuperStar singing and scholarship competition.  LaManno was visiting her mom as she did every Sunday at Shalom Village.  That none of the victims were apparently  Jewish does not matter.   They were human beings with lives still to live.  They were killed because some Jew hating bastard either thought they were Jewish or figured since they were at Jewish institutions they might as well have been. He didn't really care.  This is a hate crime.  

Three people, three very innocent people, who were merely going about their daily lives on a rainy Sunday in suburban Kansas City had their lives snuffed out in the name of racist hate.  I truly mourn each of them, and their deaths make me seethe with anger.  

Glenn Miller is a long time white supremacist who has been living of late in southwest Missouri.  One People's Project describes Miller as a,


...veteran white supremacist ...(who)  once ran a white supremacist paramilitary operation before he turned FBI informant and in recent years had been seen posting regularly on a white supremacist website forum, where his last post was to note that he had spoken yesterday to Craig Cobb the white supremacist who attempted to take over a small town in North Dakota last year.

Miller is a former KKK Grand Dragon down in North Carolina and the founder of the white nationalist Patriot Party.

In 2012 Miller spoke to undergraduates at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.    David Embree, an adjunct instructor in religious studies at MSU, said he invited Miller to speak during a one-week class offered between semesters. The class was about "White Supremacists in the Ozarks."  Brilliant move Embree.  From the Springfield Leader:


When Miller visited the class, he railed against Jews. A student challenged him and told him she was Jewish.

Miller told her, according to Embree, "You should be one of the first to go."

Embree was asked if he considered ending the talk at that point and asking Miller to leave.

He did not. "This was getting pretty close to the end of the time," he said. "I kept things orderly.

About his appearance at the University Miller posted on his blog that two Jewish students were present.  Miller  wrote that he was in a heated exchange with one of them. "I raised up and blurted out, 'Hell yes, I hate you and all jews, and you all deserve my hate for what your people have done to mine."  He also wrote that in his presentation he denied the Holocaust, calling it the "holyhoax."  He closed with "Heil Hitler!"


In another of Miller’s posts, from Jan. 10, 2012,  he uses multiple slurs to refer to the students in the class. “No holds barred, no quarter given to the 2 kikess’ present, and though I was allotted only 45 minute to speak, plus a 15 minute Q&A period, the 16 students and I ran our mouths, nonstop almost for 2 full hours and 5 minutes. Time flew.”

Ah, academia and free speech.  

I try to tell people I have no use for free speech for nazis.  Many get all huffy about that.  What they can't seem to get through their heads is that no one has the right to call for the murder of others, for genocide.  No one, personally speaking as a Jew, gets a free pass to call for my murder and to attempt to incite others to take up the cause.  Beyond that, as I try again to explain to these valiant defenders of free speech for white supremacists and nazis, these people mean what they say, their words lead to violence.  Miller's words, his free speech, led directly to what happened yesterday.  Three people are dead.  

Last fall, when a group of nazis and white supremacist came to hold a rally in downtown Kansas City, Missouri,  I joined with hundreds of others to shout them down, to watch them slink out of town behind a cordon of police.  Another group, led by the Institute for Research and Education in Human Rights, Inc. and various civic and mainstream liberal organizations thought we should not have done that. They said WE were promoting violence.  They said we should be nice.  They tried to split our ranks in the fight against white supremacy, fascism, and nazism.  They held a sing-a-long miles away. We paid these do gooders advice "no never mind." What happened yesterday, as I wrote yesterday on Facebook, 


... is one reason we have to stand up to and kick the ass of nazis whenever and wherever they rear their ugly heads. This is why we don't just go hold some kumbaya sing-a-long far away. This is why we shout them down, run them out of town, smash them however we can and by whatever means are necessary.

There is more.  Last month, David Irving, the grandfather of the holocaust denial movement, came to town.  A group of anti racists, anti fascists alerted the Hampton Inn where his meeting was scheduled of who he was and what he was about.  The Hampton in On the Plaza didn't care.  They welcomed his little meeting.  The anti-fascists showed up and disrupted the event.  The manager of the Hampton Inn threatened to have them all arrested.  Since then a campaign has been mounted here against the Hampton Inn and is demanding an apology.

Miller, by the way, was also a holocaust denier.

Get it.

I, for one, do not believe that nazis are the biggest threat we face.  They remain relatively small in number and weak.  However, this does not mean they are not dangerous.  They are.  Yesterday once again proves that.  Those who always advise us to ignore them when they come to town, when these white supremacists show up to march, to speak, to rally, have got to realize today that they, not we as they always say, are playing into the white supremacists hands.  Every time they speak, march, rally, these nazi pigs get their word out to someone...embolden themselves...and the result is racist violence and death.  You don't ignore these people.  You shut them down however you can and wherever they appear.

Meanwhile, Miller himself, I hope faces some "white supremacist justice" of his own.  You see, Miller in addition to everything else he is, also is a snitch.  Over 25 years ago he worked out a deal with the feds to save his skin by testifying agains his friends.  After going underground, Miller was arrested on April 30, 1987 in Ozark, Missouri, on numerous Federal criminal charges along with  three other men (Tony Wydra, Robert "Jack" Jackson, and Douglas Sheets).  After his arrest, Miller agreed to testify against several other defendants in a major Federal sedition trial in Arkansas.  At that time  he testified in the federal trial of 14 men, including 10 charged with sedition and five who had been accused of conspiring to kill a federal judge and an FBI agent .    Miller testified in the trial as part of a plea bargain in which he also spent three years in prison "on weapons charges and for plotting robberies and the assassination of SPLC founder Morris Dees."   He also testified in court that the founder of the Order, Robert Mathews, had given him  $200,000 to start the White Patriot Party. The Order was a white supremacist group in the early 1980s responsible for a number of murders and bank and armored car robberies.

This sort of thing doesn't go over real well in prison, in the white supremacist movement, in any movement.  I won't say here what I hope happens to Glenn when next he shows up in the general population of some prison somewhere.  All I can say is "good luck Glenn"  when next you meet up with your cohorts.  


Now, we also learn, as I expected we would, that the fools from the Westboro Baptist Church up the interstate in Topeka plan on picketing the funerals.  They plan to picket the funerals of three white Christians who were murdered by a Jew hating white supremacist because they, too, hate Jews. Don't ask these people to make any sense.  Their minds are so full of hate that would be impossible.

 This is life in the belly of the belly of the beast these days.

NOTE AND UPDATE:  I thought yesterday that I remembered this.  Miller was also involved in the massacre of five anti nazi demonstrators from the communist workers party back in 1979 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  I couldn't find anything until now, so I didn't mention it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

KISSING THE SWORD: A WOMAN'S STORY OF LIFE IN THE MULLAH'S PRISONS



It is prison Friday and I had a little debate with myself about my post for today.  It does go back a long ways, and it sort of about a book, although, really it isn't.  I'm going with it.

It is interesting how well religious fundamentalist do the prison thing.  I am talking about running the prison thing here.  They do it just as well as the non religious.  Doesn't really seem to matter.  With or without god or gods, some have a unique capacity for pure evil.  This "lovely" reminiscence from back in the early 80s Iran tells us what can what happens when you toss some misogyny into the works.

Shahrnush Parsipur was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1946.   While at the University of Tehran she published several short stories and articles in literary magazines throughout Iran.  She became a producer at Iranian National Television and Radio.  Later she was arrested  protesting the unjust execution of two of Tehran’s poet’s by the Shah's secret police. She spent fifty-nine days in prison.  But that isn't the story.

She moved to France to study Chinese Philosophy and Language. There, she wrote her second novel, Majerahayeh Sadeh va Kuchake Ruheh Derakht (Plain and Small Adventures of the Spirit of the Tree) in 1977.  

She returned to Iran in 1980  to witness the Iranian revolution firsthand. Soon after her return, she was arrested and thrown in prison for nearly five years. The circumstances of her arrest are unclear, as she was never formally charged with a crime. However, she maintains that her incarceration, in conjunction with that of her mother and brother, was due to her brother’s involvement in political documenting.

Pen America takes us where we are going here:


Her memoir, Kissing the Sword, captures the surreal experience of serving time without being charged with a crime and witnessing the systematic destruction of any and all opposition to fundamentalist power. Parsipur, one of the great novelists of modern Iran, known for her magic realist style, tells a story here that is all too real. She mines her own painful memories of her imprisonment to create an urgent call for one of the most basic human rights: freedom of expression.



Her website tells us more.


As soon as she was released from jail, she published her novel Touba va Maanayeh Shab (Touba and the Meaning of Night) which has brought her a lot of fame amongst the book readers in Iran.  This book has been translated into German and Italian, and its English translation has published..

As a result of openly referring to the issue of virginity in her novella Women without Men, she ended up in jail again on two different occasions.  

During an interview published on Iranian.com she was asked about her experiences with prison.  She replied:


I have been to prison four times and I have extensively discussed them in my Prison Memoir [Khaterat-e Zendan]. It is very difficult for me to explain them again. But I will tell you...

The first time was because I publicly protested the execution of Khosrow Golsorkhi and Keramatollah Daneshiyan -- they were both poets, on which occasion I resigned from the Iranian National Television. Because I believed the reasons of the state for the trial and execution of these poets were not sufficient and it was wrong. In the letter of resignation that I wrote, I indicated that I was not opposed to the government [hukumat] or monarchy [maqam-e saltanat], I still am not opposed to it. But that execution was unjust. At any rate, because of the circumstances surrounding this resignation, I was arrested and put behind bars for 54 days. I was incarcerated.

The second time it was in 1981. I had returned to Iran in 1980. I tried to find a job to earn a living. My sister-in-law had a number of publications which she used to go and purchase. Both to read and to share with us. This particular publication was of a leftist leaning. Right now I cannot remember to which political group it belonged. The name of that publication was Rahaee [Emancipation]. I used to borrow it from my sister-in-law and read it. At any rate, a number of this particular publication had accumulated at my brother’s house. When a number of the leading cadre including Ayatollah Beheshti and his comrades were assassinated. All of these publications were immediately banned. I went to my brother’s to return my niece. My brother had asked my mother who had at the time was in the kitchen to get rid of these publications. But my mother had forgotten and these were left in his car and he had driven to the village of Evin a few days later and these publications were discovered by the police and the Hezbollah militia. At this point they arrested all of us. None of us were political activists, neither my mother, nor my two brothers, nor I. Each one of us was sent to prison for different reasons and periods. Mine become longer than all of them. It lasted for four years, seven months and seven day -- but I was never officially charged.

On two other occasions, I was arrested after the publication of my Women without Men, when a Hezbollah affiliated periodical attacked me, claiming that this story is anti-Islamic, unethical and contrary to this, that, or other things [zede behman]. I was arrested -- I believe in the month of July of 1990. I was in jail for about two months and my family put my maternal aunt’s house as collateral and bailed me out. After that I reported back to the prison in order to release my aunt’s house from any collateral obligation. These are the four times I went to jail.

During my second term in prison, many executions took place. Large groups of people were executed. Maybe six, seven thousand people were killed, which later in addition to the executions that took place in 1988, the number exceeded to ten thousand deaths. These were exceedingly frightful years. The atmosphere of prison was terrorizing... 


The following is from Utne.   It is one piece of a story of one woman's life in an Iranian political prison under the reign of the Mullahs.  It is also, no doubt, the story of many others who themselves cannot speak.



As a Woman and Political Prisoner of Iran


In the 1980's, the Iran's fundamentalist government took many political prisoners from those who supported the old monarchy, or advocated greater freedoms. The author is one woman who was imprisoned for her beliefs.




Shahrnush Parsipur was imprisoned for nearly five years by Iran's fundamentalist government without being formally charged. Kissing the Sword (The Feminist Press, 2013) is her account of this horrific and life-altering experience—nights blasted by the sounds of machine gun fire as hundreds of prisoners are summarily executed, and days spent debating the teachings of the Quran. The excerpt is from the second chapter, and details the early days of Parsipur's experience as a political prisoner.
On September 7, 1981, they took my mother and me to stand trial. We sat in a courtroom all day, blindfolded. We were tried separately. I remember I was acting stiff and formal. I was angry. From the way the judge was questioning me, it was clear that he knew there were no serious infractions in my record. Regardless, in accordance with Iranian tradition—based on a landlord peasant social structure—as the accused, I was expected to sit there humbly with bent back, addressing the judge as “your honor,” and referring to myself as “your servant.”
The courtroom was comprised only of a judge and a secretary. There was no defense attorney, and as far as I can remember, I was not asked any questions directly related to our case. There may have been one inquiry about the publications. Instead, the judge wanted to discuss issues such as my belief in God, man’s will, and the like. He even raised a question about incest between a father and daughter. I didn't understand the reason for this question, but I said that I knew of a few such cases and that the problem was deeply rooted in history. I mentioned the story of Lot in the Old Testament, who had sexual relations with his daughters. That night, one of the prisoners told me that several months earlier a retired prostitute had been held in the unit and questioned about various forms of sexual relations during her trial. The prosecutor’s behavior had been so offensive that the poor woman had felt greater shame and degradation than she had ever experienced in a lifetime of prostitution.
When the time came for our bread-and-cheese lunch break during the trial, they had me sit in the hallway next to a girl who was lying on the floor. Earlier that day, she had sat near me and asked one of the guards to bring her jacket which she had left behind in a court room; she was cold. When the guard brought the jacket, he quietly whispered, “Farideh, Farideh, what have you done to yourself?” The girl did not answer. And then, at lunch, she was there lying next to me. I peeked at her from beneath my blindfold and she laughed at me. Then she asked, “How are things in the unit?” Without knowing which unit she was referring to, I said, “All is well.” She said, “My name is Farideh Shamshiri. Say hello to everyone for me.”
That night I told my roommates about her and they all became quite excited. I learned that Farideh had been brought to the unit in the winter, and to keep herself busy she painted, using supplies provided by the unit administrator, who had noticed her talent. Every morning and evening she went to the unit office to pick up and return the art supplies and soon these frequent visits became a subject of discussion among her fellow inmates, and rumor spread that Farideh was cooperating with prison officials. Given the seriousness of the accusation, to prove her loyalty to the leftist prisoners, Farideh stopped painting and participated more and more in antigovernment slogan chanting, which the authorities were trying to prevent. The end result was that one day the guards raided the unit, beat everyone severely, and transferred Farideh to solitary confinement. They also installed a speaker in front of one of the windows and started broadcasting their own slogans and readings from the Quran at earsplitting levels. According to those who knew, even in solitary confinement, Farideh continued to chant slogans and to write them in pencil on the walls.
The day after I saw her, reports of Farideh Shamshiri’s execution appeared in the newspapers. The news shocked everyone. Those in the unit who had pushed her toward her death by spreading rumors about her were devastated.
But an hour had barely passed after we learned of Farideh’s death when the sound of laughter again echoed everywhere. The prisoners were still at an age when joyfulness is one’s natural state of being. Even though the unit was becoming more crowded, with three or four people added every day, the young girls rarely complained. Many of them knew each other and were happy to see one another again—even if it was in prison. Or they instantly made friends and tried to get news of the world outside.
Often I would watch as the prisoners who were called in for questioning left the unit. I could easily tell whose case was more serious by the demeanor of her friends—they would follow her to the door with solemn faces and anxious expressions. Being young and inexperienced, many of them had divulged all their group’s secrets to each other, and now they were worried about what would be confessed to under torture.
Around the time of my trial, a few people arrived in the unit whom others called tavvāb—“repentant.” They were members of different political groups who had confessed to all manner of actions and deeds and had promised to cooperate with the authorities. In exchange, they were granted certain liberties and worked as guards in the units where they were being held. The tavvābs were generally cruel and ruthless and were feared and despised by the prisoners. Their arrival ignited new tension and anxiety in the unit.
* * *
A few weeks passed, and I was still waiting for the outcome of my mother’s and my trials. The population in the unit continued to increase and it became impossible to walk in the courtyard. There was less food. The morning piece of cheese was getting smaller and there were no visitors to bring money so that people could buy food from the commissary to make up for the shortage. Occupants of certain rooms claimed they were given less to eat than the others and it soon became apparent they were not lying. The Mujahedin were under greater pressure than the other groups. Day by day, their numbers increased, their food decreased, and a sense of constant fear and apprehension came to reign over them.
The number of prisoners being physically tortured was increasing. Many were black and blue all over. I remember Shahin from those days, a woman with dark olive skin, who was affiliated with a leftist group. One day they took her to the public prosecutor’s office and gave her a severe beating. When she returned to the unit, I asked her to show me her bruises. She laughed and said that because of her dark skin her bruises didn't show. The next night, I saw Shahin in the bathroom, cheerfully chatting with a friend. She had been interrogated again that day, and it seemed she had escaped danger. But two days later, she looked worried and upset. She had been summoned to the public prosecutor’s office again. The following afternoon, we found her name among those who had been executed. I asked one of her friends what Shahin had been accused of. Her friend said she had been caught driving a car with a printing machine in its trunk. On the last day of her life, Shahin had told her friend that she thought they were going to execute her because the interrogator had touched her breasts; to her this meant that she was going to be put to death.
In truth, I never heard prisoners talk about sexual abuse. But it was rumored that on their final night, young girls sentenced to death were wed to the guards so that they wouldn't be buried as virgins. It was said that if a girl was buried while still a virgin, she would lure a man to follow her to the grave. My only proof that this might have been happening were Shahin’s last words. I did know a couple of other prisoners who had gotten close to having sexual relations with the guards, but in one instance it was a prisoner’s strategy to stop her torture, and in another, deeply affectionate feelings had developed between an interrogator and a prisoner.
Reprinted with permission from Kissing the Sword: A Prison Memoir by Shahrnush Parsipur and published by The Feminist Press, 2013.