Saturday, April 15, 2006
The sad fact about the article below is that book banning in schools in the U.S. is far worse than the author even realizes.
The following article is from PERIÓDICO 26 (Cuba).
Tantrum in Miami
By Juana Carrasco Martin (with Juventud Rebelde Newspaper)
- firstname.lastname@example.org -
A children’s book has kicked up a fuss in Miami, a place where intolerance is a daily routine.
A father —only one father— complained about the fact that a library at a public school in Miami-Dade County had a travel book about Cuba on its shelves. The parent was upset about the descriptions and pictures showing daily life in a country ruled by a “Communist government.”
The book, A Visit to Cuba by Alta Schreier, features photographs of smiling children wearing bright school uniforms, and there is even a shot of a party in which people are celebrating the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. That was too much for Juan Amador, who describes himself as a former Cuban “political prisoner.” Speaking to Miami’s WTVJ Television, he said, “I found that such material was not trustworthy. That is a Cuba which doesn’t exist.”
Due to of his malicious stupidity, the lie was echoed. School district spokesperson Joseph Garcia explained that the book was published in 2001 as part of a series of schoolbooks for second and third graders which describes several countries, including as Australia, the UK, and others. He commented that the book was “a simple representation of life, and obviously Cuba’s social and political situation is more complex,” expressing his support for the decision to withdraw the book from the shelves of Marjory Stoneman Douglas Elementary School.
At the same time, Supervisor Rudolph Crew announced the possibility that the book could “be removed from all libraries.” Such clumsiness is in line with the absurdity and irrationality that rule life in that US city. What is more, such insanity reaches the White House, which supports, encourages, and finances a policy which seeks to wipe out — through any and all means— a social and economic system that upsets it.
Howard Simon, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Florida, called into question the decision by the school. He said, “If the father who made the objection does not want his child to see this book, that is his right; but I don’t think that he has any right to conceal information from each child that attends each school in Miami-Dade County.” He went on to say, “that is the right that the supervisor has given to this father.”
The issue will continue to be addressed at an April 19 meeting, the very day that the 45th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs Victory is celebrated in Cuba. In that far-off and beautiful place, children wearing their bright school uniforms will study, learn history, play, and smile. In the meantime, some people in Miami will resent their defeat at the Bay of Pigs, and perhaps one of them will be that lone, fundamentalist father.
Even other cops know what really did happen in the Frank Jude case. For example, Officer Joseph Schabel, testified he saw all three off-duty officers charged in the beating of Jude punch or kick him after Schabel and his partner responded to the scene. "Officer Bartlett came in and kicked Jude in the face," Schabel said, adding he heard a "popping and cracking" sound. Schabel said he ordered Bartlett to step back. Spengler "punched him twice in the face," and Masarik kicked Jude in the head, the officer testified.
Didn't matter. The boys in blue walked free.
The editorial below comes from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Editorial: Justice undone in a case testing Milwaukee resolve
From the Journal Sentinel
Posted: April 15, 2006
A jury shocked Milwaukee late Friday with not-guilty verdicts in the Frank Jude beating case. Obviously, Jude suffered a wanton beating at the hands of off-duty police officers in October 2004 outside a house party in Bay View. But the jury apparently was not convinced that the officers on trial for the crime were the perpetrators. And that means the men who mercilessly beat Jude are, for now, unpunished.
Commendably, the U.S. Attorney will immediately consider whether federal charges are warranted. And civil suits should not be dismissed out of hand either.
The jury exonerated ex-officers Andrew Spengler and Daniel Masarik. It exonerated ex-officer Jon Bartlett on one charge but deadlocked on another, setting the stage for another trial.
These verdicts will, unfortunately, only deepen the suspicion in the black community that African-Americans can't get justice in Milwaukee.
This was a major trial for the community. It was a test of whether Milwaukee police officers are above the law. It highlighted a pernicious code of silence, by which officers, who are supposed to fight crime, cover up wrongdoing within their own ranks. And it involved the explosive combination of police and race.
But those interested in justice in this case must keep in mind there are other avenues. Jude, for instance, can file a civil suit seeking damages. What's more, the federal government will now explore whether federal charges are possible, a review that Milwaukee County Attorney E. Michael McCann urged late Friday and U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic agreed to do.
The case hits a raw nerve in Milwaukee, but the community must stay calm. And black leaders are to be commended for early on urging such calm.
Race is a sore issue in Milwaukee, as in the nation as a whole. And a deeply felt grievance among many African-Americans is that white officers mistreat black people with impunity. Frank Jude is biracial, and the officers who beat him were white. What's more, according to testimony, officers used the N-word that night in 2004 when they beat Jude mercilessly outside a house party in the Bay View neighborhood.
The trial got off to an ominous start, with the selection of an all-white jury, which fails to reflect Milwaukee County's racial diversity. On the whole, whites and blacks look at the issue of race differently. For instance, according to opinion polls, blacks are more inclined to believe that police brutality occurs. As we have editorialized, we believe that Circuit Judge David Hansher erred in letting such a non-representative jury hear such a racially sensitive case.
The jury's verdict - deadlocking on one charge against Bartlett but finding not guilty on all others - is tough to understand. During the trial, Lt. Stephen Basting, a police trainer noted that the only justification for inflicting the injuries Jude had was that the officers were fighting for their life, and in that case, they, too, should be showing injuries. They were not.
Jury verdicts around the country suggest that it's hard to convict on-duty cops for wrongdoing. This case shows that such a rule may apply to off-duty cops, too.
Perhaps the jury bought the whopper defense attorney Gerald Boyle told in court: that, if Jude had been kicked and punched dozens of times, he should have had more injuries.
An emergency room doctor who treated Jude the morning of Oct. 24, 2004, testified he had the worst ear injuries she had ever seen in 15 years of practice.
Kathleen Shallow said she took pictures of the injuries because there were so many. Besides his ears, Jude had two factures, to his sinus and nasal bone, an eye swollen shut, a grossly swollen hand, marks on his neck consistent with choking and cuts and bruises over much of his face and body, she said.
The witnesses said Jude was punched and kicked repeatedly in the head, face, body and groin and had a knife put to his throat. Jude said he was the subject of racial slurs, had his fingers yanked back and had something jammed into both ears.
As McCann noted in closing arguments, it was telling that all the civilian witnesses and the first on-duty officers saw the beating, but none of the 10 off-duty officers there did. McCann told Milwaukee.
"A ferocious beating is administered and no cop sees it?" McCann said with righteous anger. "What's going on here? Cover-up. I am the district attorney of this county. I don't want the cops kicking the (expletive) out of people and then accusing them of resisting."
Unfortunately, the perpetrators in this case are still not held to account..
Friday, April 14, 2006
Sarah, onboard the Esperanza (see article below) reports on the Crew and Activist blog site, "I have just come back from a wander down to the Binar 4 to visit the activists, who are still up on the crane and masts. The crew of the Binar 4 have now put up their own banner to rival ours which says 'Greenpeace is Violent' in Spanish. The team onboard managed to get our banners back in place and are still happy."
"But what really touched me was the three Guineans who had come down to the Esperanza to say "thank you" to us for what we are doing. They said that from Madrid to Barcelona and beyond all their mates are on the phone asking whether they 'saw the Greenpeace stuff on TV?', and saying how great they think it is. They said that Guinea is a poor country, their fish is being stolen and that they were really happy to see us here. If we do manage to have open boats here in Las Palmas they said they wanted to come down."
"That certainly makes all the late nights and stressful moments well worth it."
The following piece is from Greenpeace International Ocean Defenders web site.
Pirate ship boarded and branded
LasPalmas, Spain — Activists from the Esperanza have climbed on board an illegal cargo vessel full of fish stolen from Guinean waters. Greenpeace and the Environmental Justice Foundation tailed the "Binar 4" for six days, as it sailed from West Africa to dump its pirate catch on the European market.
The team of activists will "police" the vessel in the port of Las Palmas until Spanish authorities move to confiscate its illegal cargo. As the "Binar 4" waited to enter port it was branded with the words "Stolen Fish" - painted five times across both sides of its hull.
On April 6th, during an investigation into pirate fishing in West Africa - in which more than 100 vessels were documented - the crew of the Esperanza spotted the "Binar 4" illegally transshipping (transferring fish from multiple trawlers onto the cargo ship) fish from Guinean waters. The Esperanza trailed the pirate ship to the Spanish port of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands where the fish were to be laundered into the European market
"The Guinean authorities have confirmed this ship broke the law. We will ensure that no further laws are broken before the authorities in Las Palmas confiscate the stolen fish on board", said Sarah Duthie, Greenpeace oceans campaigner.
More than 11,000 boxes of fish are on the Binar 4, taken from one of the poorest regions in the world. West Africa is the only place on the planet where fish consumption is actually falling. So far, the authorities in Las Palmas have refused to authorize the offloading of the illegal catch.
"We are encouraged to see that Spain and Guinea have taken action against this vessel and we hope that this is the beginning of a more effective cooperation to improve control of pirate fishing vessels attempting to enter Las Palmas", said Helene Bours of the Environmental Justice Foundation.
Illustrating part of the web of legal and illegal fishing activities we observed in West Africa - click here for more info on why the"Binar 4" is illegal.
Part of the Defending Our Oceans, Greenpeace and the Environmental Justice Foundation have been carrying out a joint investigation in West Africa during which over 100 vessels were documented. The evidence gathered suggests that almost half the boats observed were engaged in, or linked to illegal fishing activities.
R. Vincent Bertollini had been Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler’s leading financial supporter and public champion; the two men also financially supported America’s Promise Ministries, a Christian Identity organization. He was also the co-founder of 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, a white supremacist propaganda ministry based in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Bertollini, who made millions from the Silicon Valley computer chip industry in the 1980s and '90s, became a Christian Identity adherent and formed 11th Hour Remnant Messenger in 1990 while still living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bertollini also was known to hit the bottle. The guy had three DUIs before he decided to flee the scene about five years ago and skip his trial and likely jail time.
Bertollini was nabbed in Santa Fe, New Mexico the day before yesterday.
The following reports is brought to us by the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Fugitive white supremacist nabbed in S.F.
A former financier of the Aryan Nations who disappeared from northern Idaho after being charged with drunken driving nearly five years ago has been arrested in New Mexico, a federal spokesman said.
R. Vincent Bertollini was arrested Wednesday by the FBI in Santa Fe, N.M., almost five years after fleeing a drunken-driving charge in Bonner County, Idaho.
Bertollini, 67, was arrested at a Santa Fe check-chasing business, said FBI Agent Norm Brown, a spokesman for the Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force, which tracked him.
The FBI obtained a federal warrant, alleging unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, against Bertollini shortly after he failed to show up in July 2001 to stand trial on his third drunken-driving charge in two years.
He will be returned to Sandpoint, Idaho, where he faces the possibility of one to 10 years in prison if convicted of drunken driving.
"We believe that he has been living in the Santa Fe area for months, if not years," Brown said.
There were reports that he had fled to Ireland, Costa Rica or the Virgin Islands, but the FBI said Wednesday that agents have found no evidence to suggest he ever left the country.
Bertollini caught the eye of the FBI's regional task force, which tracks foreign and domestic terrorist activities, because he was a significant financial contributor to the Aryan Nations.
Bertollini and Carl E. Story set up a two-man racist organization known as the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger. In 1999, Bertollini drew only 33 votes in a run for mayor of Sandpoint on a racist platform.
His organization established a racist Web site and mailed out thousands of pamphlets, videos and posters espousing Aryan Nations and similar Christian Identity white supremacy doctrine.
After Aryan Nations founder Richard G. Butler lost his 20-acre compound north of Coeur d'Alene in 2000 after a $6.3 million civil judgment, Bertollini made the down payment on a house for the aging racist.
Butler continued running his operation from that home in Hayden, Idaho, until his death in 2004.
While the US has been the scene of massive demonstrations on immigrant rights, Australia goes about its business of herding refugees into detention facilities.
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said those seeking refugee status and who reach the mainland will be sent to off shore camps.
Since 2001 those arriving on the mainland were handled under the Australian legal process.
Under the new system, all new arrivals by boat would have their claims handled as if they were in a UN refugee camp. They would not have access to review processes under Australian law and, if their claims were upheld, could be settled in a third country.
The move follows a diplomatic row between Australia and Indonesia over the issue of refugees. In March, Jakarta recalled its envoy to Canberra over Australia's decision to grant refugee status to 42 people from Papua province. There has been a low-level separatist insurgency for decades in Papua province and the Papuan refugees, some of whom were said to be pro-independence activists, were fleeing Indonesian oppression.
The first article below is from the Herald Sun in Australia. The second is a more on the scene report from Sydney IMC.
Protests over detainees at Holsworthy
ABOUT 80 refugee activists protested at Sydney's Holsworthy Army Barracks today, rattling gates and demanding access to 160 immigration detainees who had been transferred to the facility.
Officials turned down the protesters' requests to visit the detainees, who are among 260 temporarily relocated from Sydney's Villawood detention centre because of asbestos fears.
Refugee action groups had threatened to break through the barrack's flimsy gates but did not attempt to follow through on the threat.
About 20 police from the operational support group, flanked by dog squad officers inside the gate, had been prepared to call nearby reinforcements if required, but were not forced to act.
At least 200 people had been expected at the barracks to protest against the Federal Government's newly announced policy of processing all asylum seekers offshore.
The 80 activists who gathered in searing heat about 1pm (AEST) chanted slogans and abuse and heard speeches at the Holsworthy gate for about an hour.
They agreed to reform tonight at the empty Villawood detention centre, where some activists planned to camp overnight.
NSW Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said today's protest was focused on highlighting poor conditions at the barracks and the Government's new hardline refugee policies.
An Immigration Department spokesman denied Mr Rintoul's claims that Holsworthy detainees had been cut off from information about the protest by being refused access to televisions, radios and computers.
The Department was also satisfied the detainees had been fed and housed adequately given the 36 hours notice they had of the relocation, the spokesman said.
Mr Rintoul claimed the detainees had gone without food on Wednesday when they were moved from Villawood.
He said they were sleeping four to a room in dusty buildings marked with asbestos warnings, adding to health concerns created by the Villawood asbestos scare.
They were being housed too close to a site on the grounds officially contaminated with dangerous asbestos, he said.
The Immigration Department spokesman confirmed buildings housing the detainees had asbestos warnings on them but said they were a precaution meant for workmen who might disturb it.
"Otherwise they were safe," the spokesman said.
"The Department is satisfied the contractor GSL has supplied the detainees with adequate facilities for this temporary location."
The spokesman said the detainees were housed two kilometres from the dangerous asbestos at the barracks. They would all be returned to Villawood by April 21.
Detainee visits were halted at 11am (AEST) today for the day because of police concerns about the protest and would be resumed as soon as possible, he said.
Federal opposition immigration spokesman Tony Burke said he was not surprised there were protests today.
"The Government knew about this asbestos (at Villawood) years ago and if they'd acted as soon as they'd found out about it you wouldn't have had the mess we've had in the past week," Mr Burke said.
Villawood Protest Day 1
Spirited actions for human liberation took place today as a diverse mix of people converged on Villawood detention center to protest the tyrannical regime that keeps refugees locked up.
The protest started when people marched on the Holsworthy Army Barracks where 160 Villawood detainees had been moved. The uncanny timing of an asbestos scare at Villawood detention center was the governments excuse for the relocation.
People then converged at Campbell Hill Reserve, where a camp site was organised just opposite. The march then setoff to the detention center.
A 15 minute march was loud with chants. Support came from passing motorists beeping their horns and people looking on from their houses.
The back gate to the detention center was the target point. It was well barricaded with plenty of police on guard. This was no deterrent though. There were many speeches from people of all ages. One young boy got the loudest cheer when he proclaimed that 'animals and people should not be kept in cages'.
There was lots of singing led by people on the loudspeaker, and also a rap where the crowd chanted as a beat and chorus while the rapper spoke of refugee and and aboriginal stories of oppression and survival.
The protest remained peaceful with no provocations from the police.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Last night was the first night of Passover. As Jews, we are reminded to remember the plight our ancestors suffered as slaves in Egypt.
Over three millennia ago, 600,000 Jewish refugees escaped oppression in Egypt only to find themselves wandering in a hostile and dangerous wilderness. They carried everything they owned. They had no food. They were attacked by murderous tribes. They were entirely at the mercy of an unfamiliar environment.
We are not invited to remember merely for the sake of remembering. What would be the point of that?
The idea is to remember so that we, today, remember to stand against injustice as an individual and as a People.
That brings us to Darfur.
The unity statement of the Save Darfur coalition reads in part:
The emergency in Sudan’s western region of Darfur presents the starkest challenge to the world since the Rwanda genocide in 1994. A government-backed Arab militia known as Janjaweed has been engaging in campaigns to displace and wipe out communities of African tribal farmers.
Villages have been razed, women and girls are systematically raped and branded, men and boys murdered, and food and water supplies targeted and destroyed. Government aerial bombardments support the Janjaweed by hurling explosives as well as barrels of nails, car chassis and old appliances from planes to crush people and property. Tens of thousands have died. Well over a million people have been driven from their homes, and only in the past few weeks have humanitarian agencies gained limited access to some of the affected region.
Mukesh Kapila, the former United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, said on March 19 that the violence in Darfur is “more than a conflict, it\'s an organized attempt to do away with one set of people.” The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has issued its first ever genocide emergency. John Prendergast of International Crisis Group warns, “We have not yet hit the apex of the crisis.”.
No one, no one has done enough to end this genocide.
The American Jewish World Service recently published a Haggadah for this year (the Haggadah is readed and in some ways acted out at a tradition Passover seder). From that Haggadah:
WHO KNOWS ONE?
A Passover reflection by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld
Who knows one? One is the Janjaweed militia cleansing Darfur
Who knows one? Two is the stealing and killing of livestock
Who knows one? Three is the poisoning of wells and the destruction of crops
Who knows one? Four is the deliberate use of rape to destroy and humiliate families
Who knows one? Five is the creation of over 2 million people: displaced, hungry, susceptible to disease
Who knows one? Six is the over 400,000 people who have already died
These and more are the plagues of Darfur.
Who knows one?
I know one.
Send a postcard to President Bush. Urge him to take leadership on this issue.
lo dayenu - but it is not enough.
Who knows one?
I know one.
Encourage institutions to hang Save Darfur banners outside their buildings.
lo dayenu - but it is not enough.
Who knows one?
I know one.
Attend the rally in Washington, D.C. on April 30.
lo dayenu - but it is not enough.
Who knows one?
I know one.
Encourage others to go to the rally.
lo dayenu - but it is not enough.
Who knows one?
I know one—Rwanda
Who knows one?
I know one—Bosnia
Who knows one?
I know one—Cambodia
There are too many ones.
And I am the child who does not know how to count:
One. Two. Four hundred thousand. Six million.
For six million are the lips of our dead mouthing “never again” in eternal silence.
Who knows one? I know one.
For I am that one.
One person created in the image of God.
It is for me alone to speak out. I and no other.
Not a messenger, not a congress person, not a president.
I alone am here to tell the tale.
Who knows one? I am that one.
And who knows--I may be the one who will make the difference.
Michael Strassfeld is the rabbi of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, a synagogue in Manhattan.
The following columt appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Jews at Passover urge an end to genocide in Darfur area
Rabbi Alan J. Katz
(April 13, 2006) — "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and now we are free." These words are recited by Jews as we sit around our Seder tables at Passover. Commanded to retell the story which begins with our degradation and proceeds with our redemption, this holiday reminds us not only of our history but also points to our future and the future of all.
The Torah teaches that we are to tell our story to our children, specifically on the day of Passover. We do this with elaborate ritual and items adorning our tables such as matzo, wine, a shank bone and bitter herbs. We teach our children and remind ourselves that we know the heart of the oppressed. We have experienced their pain and we are commanded to make sure others do not suffer a similar fate.
During the Seder we pour an extra cup of wine and open the door with the hope that Elijah the prophet will come to us announcing the coming of an age of peace. For many of us the belief is that our actions to repair the world are how we beckon the coming of that messianic time of peace. If we react to the call of the haggadah, the seder's ritual prayer booklet, which recounts our journey from the dreadful conditions of Egyptian servitude to the sands of freedom, then we must work to ensure that others are not inflicted with any burden of subjugation.
This Passover many of us are focusing on the horrendous tragedy in the Darfur region of Sudan. The deaths of more than 400,000 people, and the displacement of more than 2 million have added this scenario to the list of genocidal incidents that have continued even after the Holocaust.
Some will add readings to recount the details of this growing catastrophe. Others will fill out postcards to President Bush reminding him that he promised that such genocide would not occur on his watch. Many of us will gather at Temple B'rith Kodesh on April 27 at 7 p.m. for an interfaith rally to raise our voices. Those who are able will attend a rally in Washington, D.C., on April 30 sponsored by the "Save Darfur Coalition" to demonstrate in the face of these massive killings.
While some have expressed that there is little we can do, there is a Jewish teaching from the "Sayings of the Fathers" that it might not be within our capability to complete the task, but we are not free to desist from trying.
If we believe that genocide is enabled by the silence of the bystanders we cannot keep silent. If we want to look at ourselves without the shame of knowing we did nothing, then we, too, must stand up for those unable to speak for themselves.
In celebrating our liberation, we as a Jewish people will pray and act for the liberation of all who themselves are oppressed.
Katz is rabbi at Temple Sinai.
Rally to Stop Genocide
April 30th, 2006
For information http://www.savedarfur.org/rally/
For some background on the articles below go to http://oreaddaily.blogspot.com/2006/04/speaking-of-mongolia.html
The following two reports are from the blog Mongolia.neweurasia.
Protests in Mongolia, Day 9: Gers Destroyed, Police and Protesters Fight
April 13th, 2006 by Luke
Today the protests in Mongolia have been heavily challenged by the Police and Soldiers of the current government.
Fights broke out on Sukhbaatar square and around the government building. The police broke one of the protester’s gers, and all the gers were taken down. The MPRP which is in control of this police and soldiers has also hired college students from the police and military colleges to help in the enforcement.
At least three gers have been destroyed by the police while the protesters were attempting to take them. Some of the protesters have been trying to set the gers up on the back side of the government building.
The gers that the police men have been able to take away from the protesters have been destroyed right in front of their eyes. A great disrespect, even if you disagree with the protests. It looks as if some people were injured in the clashes with the enforcement.
After these physical struggles the protesters appeared to be more motivated. Today protesters also stood at the main entrance to the government house holding pictures of past Democratic Party members who had all passed away (most of the people whose pictures they were holding are very respected people in Mongolian history).
These physical clashes will in no way disperse the protesters. It will only give them more inspiration and cause to fight for their demands. If the police and soldiers would step out completely and only get involved if the protesters where endangering anyone else’s safety, they would have a much better chance of dispering them, as well as keeping the protests peaceful. Yet when the police make the first move it has the exact opposite effect of what they are trying to do.
Many of the Mongolian citizens have been wondering why the police have been turning on their own people. Many of these police officers are also poor and their children are at the same schools with the protseters’ children. Crime and alcoholism are also huge problems in Mongolia, and people have been expressing their views that the 300+ police officers outside of the governmen building could be much more useful if they were out doing their official jobs, instead of destroying personal property of the activists.
However Tom has just put up some posts that are very contrary to the footage that was just shown.
If the protesters did indeed try to ram their way into the government building, than that is unacceptable. However that footage has yet to be shown on TV.
Updates to come later.
Democratic Party Meets with Protesters
by Luke, posted on Thursday, April 13th, 2006 at 10:03 pm
Ts. Elbegdorj, the leader of the Democratic Party, just met with protesters on Sukhbaatar square.
This is quite important because it is the first time that the DP has taken a serious interest in the protesters. Some of the members of the Democratic Party expressed interest in staying one night on Sukhbaatar square with the protesters.
After members of the Democratic Party met with protesters, Elbegdorj gave a small press conference. He clearly stated that the DP is not supporting the protesters as well as not supporting the current government.
The small interview/press conference just aired on TV about 5 minutes ago, and sitting here at my computer I have translated as much as I could while watching it:
So many people are against this government, both people in the city and people in the countryside. Many people have called us telling us how bad it is and how we need to change the government. We need to change these parliament members in a democratic fashion. The current parliament members are so close together and tight knit that they don’t have any different positions, they are sitting together. Our democratic party is not going to combine with those parliament members who are making conferences or meetings, they are doing nothing for the people. The police also tried to load us and protesters in cars and take us away when we arrived.
The police also tried to remove the gers from the square again, but the Democratic Party was quoted as saying, “We will see what they do when we are there.”
Many of the protesters are elderly, and have expressed great concern that the young and strong policemen are being too rough. Many of these old protesters were members of the MPRP during the Socialist times in Mongolia, and were awarded as state heroes. Some of these people can’t believe how their country has gone in such an incorrect direction.
The fact that the Democratic Party is showing itself with the protesters is important. I don’t believe that they will fully align themselves with them, but if the protesters join in with the Democratic Party, just like the Civil Will Party has done in reference to the proposed shadow government, the DP should have enough power to create a new government and overthrow the MPRP (if they so desire).
Here is a press release just put out by Montsame:
The Chairman of Democratic Party, Mr. Ts.Elbegdorj has sent his proposal to the Mongolian Prime Minister Mr. N.Enkhbold. The proposal reads,”…Many people express their proposals and complains to the Democratic Party about the authorities who do not make any initiative to solve the demands put by several civil movements to the top state institutions of Mongolia. Mister Prime Minister, you have been appealed to pay a special attention to the above issue and to solve the pressing social issues by ways of holding talks with the civil movements. I would like to express my opinion that the Government of Mongolia has possibilities for solving the urgent problems facing Mongolia.”
This is as up to date news as I can get (not having any official press relations). Elbegdorj’s press conference was given around an hour ago (at 10pm UB time) and aired 20mins ago on Eagle TV. It has not been aired on any other news channels yet.
The Al Aqsa Brigades are not happy with a recent decision of the Hamas led government that messes with perks and promotions.
The following brief report is from the International Middle East Media Center.
Aqsa Brigades fighters briefly take over Cabinet building in Ramallah
Saed Bannoura-IMEMC & Agencies - Thursday, 13 April 2006, 15:11
Palestinian fighters of the Al Aqsa Brigades, the military wing of Fateh movement, briefly briefly took over the Cabinet building in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Thursday, protesting the the decision of the new Hamas-led government to reject their perks and promotions in the security forces.
A group of twenty gunmen of the Brigades broke into and controlled the three-story cabinet building for about an hour until members of the Palestinian security forces managed to convince them to evacuate the building.
Many of those gunmen also work in the Palestinian security devices.
Earlier on Thursday, the fighters of the Al Aqsa Brigades also shut down the transportation ministry and forced to employees to leave the building.
Kamal Saffaka. a spokesman of the brigades reported that the fighters are upset over the refusal of Hamas government to meet their demands.
Saffaka added that the previous Fateh-led government had awarded them hundreds of taxi licenses as perks; each licence is worth thousands of US Dollars.
Following are a bunch of articles I picked up today on the on going people's struggle in Nepal.
The first two articles are from Nepalnews. The next three are from Kantipur Report. Following those is an article from the Himalayan Times.
Police open fire at the lawyers’ rally, dozens arrested
In what is seen as yet another evidence of ‘zero tolerance’ policy of the royal regime towards anti-government protests, police on Thursday opened fire at a peaceful rally being carried out by the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) in the capital, Kathmandu, Thursday morning without provocation.
Lawyers Ramchandra Simkhada, Bharat Mani Gautam, Tanka Chaulagain have received rubber bullet injuries while over a dozen lawyers, including NBA president Shambhu Thapa, were injured in police baton charging.
Police have manhandled and arrested over 50 lawyers from the rally.
According to a Nepalnews correspondent who was on the scene, police first tried to stop the rally of nearly 400 lawyers-- who were donning black coats-- as it was coming out of the central office of the Nepal Bar Association at 9:20 a. m.. Seven police vans were parked outside the NBA to stop the demonstration. The lawyers, anyhow, managed to break through the police cordon and proceeded towards Babarmahal past Maitighar Mandala.
Police pursued the rally—that was heading towards New Baeswore, which doesn’t fall in the ‘prohibited zone—and opened fire all of a sudden from the backside of the rally. Police personnel then threw tear gas shells targeting NBA president Thapa, advocate Indra Lohani and other lawyers.
“All the journalists and lawyers are Maoists,” a police officer was heard as saying as enraged policemen were raining batons on the peaceful demonstrators. There was no warning and nobody knew why the police was using force.
NBA and rights groups have condemned the police action on a peaceful demonstration with strongest possible words.
NBA—that represents over 5,000 practicing lawyers -- was the first professional body in the country that termed the seizure of power by King Gyanendra as ‘unconstitutional’ and demanded resignation of the royal government.
NBA has been in the forefront of a civic movement calling for respect to human rights and rule of law in the country.
Inujured lawyers including Thapa are undergoing treatment at the Kathmandu Model hospital while other detained lawyers are being kept at the Covered Hall, Dasarath Stadium, Tripureswore.
Police arrest over 200 development workers
Police on Thursday intervened in a peaceful sit-in programme being organised by Kathmandu-based development agencies and took into custody over 200 of them.
Police intervened in the sit-in programme being organised by the Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN) this afternoon at Maitighar Mandala. Police officers told the demonstrators that all type of rallies and demonstrations were prohibited inside the Ring Road. They first asked them to disperse, when they refused they intervened and drove them away in police vans and mini-trucks.
Over 200 development workers courted arrest silently in a graceful manner. Nobody raised slogans. Placards being carried by the development workers read: We want peace, We want human rights, Start peace negotiations immediately.
Talking to Nepalnews while being escorted by policemen to a van, president of the AIN and country director of the Action Aid Nepal, Dr. Shivesh Chandra Regmi, said it is the gross violation of citizen’s right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
“We have got no political agenda. We decided to express our concerns since development works have been affected badly due to the prolonged conflict,” he added.
Sixty member organisations of the AIN pump in nearly Rs eight billion every year to implement development works, provide humanitarian assistance and empower dalit, women and ethnic communities even in the remote areas where there is no presence of the government.
Peaceful rallies taken out across Nepal
KATHMANDU, April 13 - The eighth day of the seven-party alliance (SPA) called nation wide general strike saw peaceful demonstrations staged throughout the country today.
Pro-democracy demonstrations launched by the agitating SPA have been gaining momentum with large public participation across the country.
Expressing solidarity with the ongoing pro-democracy movement, various sectors including civil servants, lawyers, artists, teachers, doctors, business entrepreneurs, and disabled persons, among others, have joined the SPA’s mass movement.
As the authorities continued to arrest demonstrators today, security personnel opened fire at protesters in Kathmandu and Itahari.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets defying curfew orders in Chitwan today.
The SPA has said that the movement would not stop unless “autocratic monarchy” is brought to an end and complete democracy is restored in the country.
A meeting of the Mass Movement Central Coordination Committee of the SPA held in the capital today called on national and international organizations to begin a search for those who went missing during the SPA demonstrations.
Asking for pardon over the inconvenience due to the general strike, the SPA also requested the general public to encourage the movement.
Thousands attend peaceful gathering at Gongabu
Meanwhile, thousands of people participated in the SPA’s peaceful gathering at Gongabu, the area which had remained tense for the last few days due to the brutal crackdown by the police.
Leaders of the SPA addressed the gathering which was peaceful compared to the previous days. The leaders expressed their commitment to take action against those security personnel who used excessive force to quell the demonstrations at Gongabu.
Addressing the gathering, Nepali Congress leader Ram Sharan Mahat said that the SPA would not make any compromise with anyone unless people’s sovereignty is restored.
Nepali Congress-Democratic leader Prakash Man Singh said that the mass movement, “which has gained new height,” will not be stopped unless “autocratic monarchy” is brought to an end.
Thousands of people following the meeting took to a peaceful rally which went through Samakhushi, Bashundhara, and Balaju defying the government prohibitory orders.
In Kirtipur, protesters, throughout the day, organized pro-democracy demonstrations. The protesters brought traffic along the major roads to a halt by putting up obstacles. Rallies were taken out from various corners of the town this afternoon and converged into a mass gathering at Naya Bazaar.
Curfew lifted, mobile phones resume
The government lifted the night curfew imposed within the Ring Road over the last few days, with effect from tonight.
The government also resumed mobile phone services halted for the last few days to quell the SPA-called general strike and political showdown that began from April 6.
Demonstrations in Pokhara
Thousands of activists participated in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in Pokhara today. The rally, which began early in the morning, went through major thoroughfares and converged at Mahendrapul, where Bhimsen Dahal, a pro-democracy protester was shot dead by police during demonstrations on April 8.
The SPA also renamed the area as Bhimsen Chowk.
Activists from nearby villages gathered in Pokhara after the authorities lifted the curfew imposed for the last four days.
10 professors arrested
KATHMANDU, April 13 - Police rounded up 10 professors from a peaceful rally
at Trichandra College in Kathamndu on Thursday morning.
Around 100 professors of Nepal University Teachers' Association took out the rally in support the ongoing agitation of the seven-party alliance in the area that has been declared off-limit areas for demonstrations by the government.
Among the arrested were former president of NUTA Keshabananda Giri, Netra Dhital, Tulsiman Shrestha, Dr. Indra Bahadur Karki, Hom Prasad Grihasthi, Asha Watsa, Laxmi Prasad Parajuli, Yubaraj Adhikari, Bhanu Bhakta Sharma and Narayan Prasad Sangraula.
Journalists, human rights activists arrested
KATHMANDU, April 12 - Police arrested at least 25 journalists and five human rights activists from two different protests in Kathmandu Wednesday.
The journalists were rounded up from Bhrikuti Mandap who took out the rally protesting police high-handedness on protesters and were demanding press freedom.
The rally was organized by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
"Around 25 journalists were arrested for taking out the rally in a restricted area," a police officer said.
Separately, police arrested at least five human rights activists who took out a protest rally in Bagbazaar.
Thousands turn up to pay homage to ‘martyrs’
The police today arrested scores of demonstrators who had gathered near the Bir Hospital to enter Shahid Manch to pay tributes to those killed in Pokhara, Chitwan and Banepa during the general strike called by the seven-party alliance.
The riot police intervened before the rally could enter the Shahid Manch to pay tributes to Tulsi Chhetri, Shiv Hari Kunwar, Bhimsen Dahal and a mentally-ill man killed in Butwal during the general strike.
Meanwhile, alliance leaders met here and decided to further intensify the stir expecting definite changes in the Nepali New Year.
Nepali Congress central working committee member Dr Shashank Koirala, Suprabha Ghimire, CPN-UML’s Pradeep Gyawali, former lawmakers Tirtharam Dangol and Rabindra Lal Shrestha, Chhanya Devi Parajuli and Rupa Swanr and Gangalal Tuladhar of the CPN-UML, Ghanashyam Poudel of Janamorcha Nepal were among those arrested in front of the hospital.
The police also arrested Nepali Congress (Democratic) leader Dip Kumar Upadhyaya. A woman and her 12-year-old daughter, who had come to the hospital check-up, were also arrested.
The seven-party alliance had scheduled to converge rallies from Kirtipur, Koteshwor, Baneshwor, Gongabu, Patan and Kalanki at the Shahid Manch. But the police prevented the rallyists from marching to the city centre at the Ring Road areas, leading to clashes and arrests.
As many as 15,000 people had gathered at Gongabu and over 7,000 at Kirtipur. The number of those arrested has been put at over 200.
Meanwhile, doctors associated with the Nepal Medical Association continued their defiance and threatened to close down all medical facilities across the country if the democracy was not restored.
The security forces also rounded up 75 journalist from three districts. According to an FNJ press release, 25 journalists and Human Rights activists were hurt in police action at Udayapur. As many as 21 scribes were held in Pokhara, while 29 were held from Kathmandu.
Kapil Kafle, Kishor Shrestha, Mahendra Bista and, Nirmala Sharma are among those arrested. Journalists Rabindra Kumar Chaudhari, Kushal Babu Basnet, Shanta Rai and Mohan Gole were injured in Kathmandu.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
'16 DE FEBRERO' HEALTH CLINIC - CONSTRUCTION HAS
STARTED! - BUT MORE FUNDING NEEDED TO ENABLE
To date the Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity group and the
Glasgow Zapatista group have sent a total of £4,000
to Chiapas so that our twinned zapatista municipality
of '16 de Febrero' can build the first medical clinic
in their community. So far so good but the total cost
of the clinic is estimated at over £13,000 so we've a
bit to go yet!
Two members of our group recently visited '16 de
Febrero' and were able to see for themselves that work
has already begun on the clinic.
They were also able to take some excellent photos and
film footage which, when edited we will show some time
in the near future. The film includes footage of the
community starting to build the clinic.
Our members also brought back from their recent trip
more merchandise, including amber from the '16 de
Febrero'. As you will probably know we sell this so
that profits from sales go back to Chiapas. The
community sent us their thanks for our support to date
and hope that we will continue to support them so that
they can finish the clinic.
So we're pleased to report that after recent
successful fundraising gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow
(thanks RAGE!) we are now in the position to send
another £1,000 to the clinic in early May.
We thought we would email everyone on our contact list
firstly to let you all know the good news about work
starting on the clinic and also to give anyone who
wishes to donate to this next instalment of funding,
the opportunity to do so. If you send your donation
to arrive by the 1st May then it will be added to the
money we already have and will reach the zapatistas of
'16 de Febrero' shortly afterwards (if you cannot
donate until after this date, don't worry, your
donation will be sent with the next batch of funds).
Any donation, however small, will be gratefully
received, most especially by the inhabitants of '16 de
Febrero' themselves. You can send a cheque made out
to Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group to:
Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group
17 West Montgomery Place
(please e mail us at email@example.com so we know
to look out for your letter)
Or you can pay directly in to our bank account:
Account name: Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group
Sort code: 82 45 05
Account number: 60129411
(again please email us to let us know if you've put
money in to the account)
More information about the clinic and '16 de Febrero'
can be found on our website:
Edinburgh and Glasgow Chiapas Solidarity Groups
Edinburgh-Chiapas Solidarity Group
c/o ACE, 17 W. Montgomery Place
Edinburgh EH7 5HA
Tel: 0131 557 6242
Web site: http://www.edinchiapas.org.uk
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has vowed to continue pressurising Swaziland to reform, despite the wounding of eight of its members by police at the Matsamo border post. Rubber bullets were apparently fired, and the police say they used minimum force as protesters blocked routes into and out of Swaziland.
Zwelinzima Vavi, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) secretary-general, condemned the police action which he termed barbaric and undemocratic.
The first article before is from News 24 (South Africa).
The second article below which comes directly from COSATU gives some background on the action.
Shots, arrests at Swazi border
Pretoria - Protesters were shot at with rubber bullets and arrested at South Africa's Matsamo border with Swaziland on Wednesday in demonstrations against the kingdom's leadership, said Mpumalanga police.
Initially, the marchers were peaceful, but then they started to blockade the roads, said superintendent Mtsholi Bhembe.
Police told them their march certificate entitled them only to picket and they cleared the road.
However, more marchers arrived soon after the police had left and the blockade started again.
Bhembe said: "It was at this point that we had to disperse the crowd with rubber bullets and arrest those who had resisted moving from the road."
Bhembe said there were no injuries in a scuffle between the police and marchers.
He said several people were arrested and charged with public violence and public disturbance.
20 arrests reported
The situation at the border post was now orderly, and business was continuing as usual, with the marchers picketing on the side of the road.
Congress of SA Trade Unions spokesperson Patrick Craven said it had received reports from Matsamo of 20 arrests, and that some marchers had to be taken to hospital after the clash with police.
Craven said five trade union leaders were arrested at the Lavumisa border post in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal.
They were: Cosatu first deputy-president Joel Nkosi, National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) second deputy president Sedrick Gcina, National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) national treasurer Brabir Badal and its second deputy president Mzandile Makgayiba, and Cosatu KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Zet Luzibo.
Nkosana Sibuyi of home affairs said minor problems were experienced at the main border post at Oshoek and none at the Mahambo post.
"The officals at Oshoek said there was a bit of a disturbance by the chanting and singing protesters, but there were no disruptions in service there," said Sibuyi.
The protests and pickets commemorated King Sobhuza II's institution 33 years ago of the ongoing state of emergency in Swaziland, said Lucky Lukhele of Swaziland Solidarity Network.
This had allowed the curtailing of human right and political freedoms of the Swazi people, he charged.
The country is ruled by King Mswati III under a purported constitutional monarchy with the king as head of state, but the prime minister as head of the government.
Want political parties unbanned
The country's cabinet is appointed by the king on the recommendation of the prime minister. All political parties are banned.
The Swaziland Solidarity Network was demanding a democratically elected national constitutional forum and the unbanning of all political parties, said Lukhele.
It also wanted the unconditional release of all political prisoners, the return of exiles, and the removal of laws prohibiting free political action and the right to organise.
Swaziland border posts to be blockaded
The leadership and members of COSATU, the Swaziland Solidarity Network, the SACP, YCL, ANCYL and SASCO, will be holding demonstrations and blockades at the four border posts between South Africa and Swaziland on Wednesday 12 April in support for the oppressed people of Swaziland in their struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights.
The people of Swaziland are living under a state of emergency that bans political parties and outlaws all forms of political activity, including all the rights and freedoms of the people to organise, associate and speak on issues affecting the country and their lives. Only members of the royal family and their friends have rights in Swaziland; the rest of the people are objects of royal slavery and economic exploitation by the tinkhundla system
We support the demands of the people of Swaziland - the workers, women, youth and rural landless masses, and the political movements and churches. Through mass action and organised resistance, they have openly declared their untiring commitment to a society based on respect for human dignity, democracy and social justice.
For their commitment to these noble ideals, they have become victims of extreme police brutality and torture, state violence, and daily persecution by agents of royal rule. They have been arrested, forced into exile, thrown out of their land of birth, lost their jobs and means of livelihood, and denied opportunities in every way possible.
Therefore, the democracy-loving people of the world, South Africans in particular could not stand by and watch as fellow people suffer the brutality of the tinkhundla royal regime disguised as "Swazi culture and tradition", when in actual fact it is the interests of the ruling royal minority.
We are in solidarity with the struggling people of Swaziland in their quest for a truly democratic society based on the ideals of economic justice and social progress for all. It should be a society free from the stranglehold of royal monopoly, but must guarantee the full and effective participation of all people in the running of the country's daily affairs.
The people of Swaziland have made it very clear that only a constitution produced by a democratic and popular process, involving all the people of Swaziland and their organisations, can be acceptable and democratic.
The current constitution was made by the royal family and their friends. It was made under conditions of massive arrests and torture of political activists, particularly members of PUDEMO and SWAYOCO, workers, youth and women and rural landless people, like the people of Kamkhweli and Macetjeni.
The conditions under which the constitution was made could not guarantee free speech and the right to organise. The media and judiciary were and still are controlled by the king and are not independent, whilst the security forces are instruments of intimidation, harassment and terror against political activists who want democracy and change.
Therefore, we stand by the people's demand for a democratically elected National constitutional Forum to write a legitimate and democratic constitution for Swaziland. The current constitution has also been rejected by the international community of civilised humanity, and our duty is to intensify its rejection and the demand for a new and democratic one.
Our demands are not separate from the demands of the struggling people of Swaziland, which are:
A democratically elected National Constitutional Forum
Unbanning of political parties
Unconditional release of all political prisoners and the return of all exiles
Immediate removal of all laws that prohibit free political activities and ban the rights to associate, organise and speak freely.
Prem Fakun, from the Africa Desk of the ICFTU suggests that you write to the Commonwealth Secretary-General pressing him to review the organisation's position regarding democratisation in Swaziland. He visited Swaziland a short time ago to address the new Parliament when he heaped priases upon the King and the democratisation process!! Herewith the particulars:
Rt Hon. Don Mckinnon
Marlborough House, Pall Mall,
London SW1Y 5HX, UK
Phone: +44 (0)20 7747 6500
Fax: +44 (0)20 7930 0827
Yeah, things are going great in Iraq. Read the article below from Relief Web for one perspective.
Iraq: Amid violence, health workers appeal for blood donations
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
BAGHDAD, 12 April (IRIN) - The National Blood Transfusion Centre (NBTC) in the capital, Baghdad, is making urgent appeals for blood donations due to a shortage caused by the worsening security situation and rising sectarian violence.
"We need reagents, gloves, syringes and - above all - we need blood donors to help their Iraqi brothers who are suffering due to the lack of blood for transfusions," said NBTC Director Dr Hayder al-Shammari. "We can't meet the demand, and this could cause very serious problems in the coming days." He added that the NBTC's blood banks, used now only in emergency cases, were almost depleted.
Ahmed Odey, a haematologist at the centre, said that about 15 percent of all blood donated locally was rejected due to the presence of infections and other defects. "We practically haven't found any cases of HIV, but hepatitis commonly comes up in laboratory tests," said Odey.
According to al-Shammari, the demand for blood has tripled since last December and has escalated further within the last couple weeks of rising violence. "We were supplying Baghdad with about 300 blood bags per day last year," said al-Shammari. "These days, though, this number can climb as high as 1,000 bags a day."
Odey urged his compatriots to come to the NBTC to make donations. "Iraqis should know that we need much more blood due to the increase in violence," he said, highlighting the centre's "very efficient equipment and competent staff".
The NBTC accepts blood, of any type, from all healthy Iraqis between the ages of 18 and 65.
Ah, I remember way back when when at the University of Kansas we were busy with military recruiters. One action, I recall, was of the yippie type guerilla theater kind. It was fun, made a statement, messed up any attempt at recruiting, and certainly confused the recruters. That was the late 60s. An article on FBI surveillance I ran across recently references the action. It states:
"In a memo from Nov. 1, 1968, the FBI instructed its Kansas City field office "to conduct a discreet investigation concerning the People's Voice..." What resulted were more than 200 pages of surveillance on the organization and an affiliated group, Students for a Democratic Society. Another government memo called for cases to be opened on listed individuals — whose names are blacked out — who attended SDS meetings.
Several members of People's Voice and SDS also were involved with the Tautological Society, which has an FBI file of its own. There, Berkowitz (ed. note: that would be my friend Bill, whose writings I sometimes post here) is referenced in a University Daily Kansan story ("Union Scene of Battle," 2/10/69) on the Society's protest of U.S. Marine recruitment at the Kansas Union.
The story, clipped and mounted to an FBI form, describes Berkowitz as conducting "revolutionary theater":
"Berkowitz, campus hippie-in-residence, spieled, 'Be a leader of men! Be a lady Marine.' Berkowitz hawked Marine newsletters, claiming they were the latest from the underground press."
By the way I talked to Bill about that "campus hippie-in-residence" credo lately. He got a good laugh.
Those were the days!
The action described below took place yesterday.
The following is a release from Students Against War.
Students Kick Military Recruiters Off UC Santa Cruz
Submitted by studentsagainstwar on Tue, 04/11/2006 - 1:37pm.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2006
CONTACT: Students Against War’s ad-hoc press team:
Sam Aranke - 714-458-2471 - firstname.lastname@example.org
David Zlutnick – 805-698-6228 - email@example.com
Janine Carmona - 707-496-3530 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Students Kick Military Recruiters Off UC Santa Cruz
Military Prevented from Recruiting for Third Straight Job Fair
SANTA CRUZ, CA – It’s been over a year and a half since the military has been able to effectively recruit on this UC campus as all their attempts have been met by mass student actions. Today, in spite of the pouring rain and administrative attempts to stifle students’ free speech, Students Against War (SAW) organized over 150 students to march from the center of campus to the job fair, where they nonviolently prevented access to military recruiters through sit-ins and other measures. After about an hour and a half of negotiations and students’ refusal to back down, military recruiters left the job fair.
The students’ first victory appeared early in the day, as administrators separated military recruiters from other employers, allowing the protesters to block access to the military, while the remainder of the job fair continued. This separation was the only one of SAW’s proposals for protecting free speech to be adopted by administrators, who still banned media from the event.
The successful protest was also significant in light of the fact that University administrators hired, at great cost to the school, a number of police from other UC campuses. These police, local officers, and a top local official, physically assaulted multiple students without provocation and repeatedly refused to provide identification when requested. Students were pushed, punched, choked, and a student’s hand was slammed in a door. One student, acting as a legal observer, was pushed and arrested for documenting police surveillance, but was released after an immediate display of student support. The student may face charges in the future, which SAW intends to vehemently resist. In the face of administrative and police repression the students remained remarkably peaceful.
The action stressed the importance of connecting the complexities of the “War on Terror,” continued military occupations, and government neglect of communities at home. Students also emphasized solidarity with labor struggles, immigrants’ rights, the fight against the privatization of education, and numerous other movements. In order to directly highlight the sexism inherent in the military, a group of female students directly confronted the recruiters. This was a result of consistent student-initiated negotiations with administrators. The action proved to be a key moment, as military recruiters left quickly after the women entered.
In response to the victory, SAW member Sam Aranke responded, “Our demonstration today is a clear example of how tangible success can be when we take strategic actions against the war at a local level. It’s not just about the action today, it’s about creating sustained movements that directly resist the militarization of our communities.”
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Thomas "Tom" Hurndall (November 29, 1981 - January 13, 2004) was a British photographer and member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and an activist against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On April 11, 2003, he was shot in the head by an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) sniper, Taysir Hayb, and suffered irreversible brain damage, dying from his wound a year later.
The 22-year-old had apparently been trying to move young Palestinian children from the line of fire when he was hit in the head. He was in a coma and died nine months later.
A British inquest into the death of Hurndall has now found that he “was shot intentionally.
The family of the slain activist Tom Hurndall will seek to extradite officers of the IDF's Southern Command to Britain to answer charges of war crimes under the Geneva Convention.
The following is from the Guardian.
Calls for UK to act over Britons shot dead in Gaza
Tuesday April 11, 2006
The attorney general was last night called on to seek war crimes charges against five Israeli officers after an inquest jury found that a soldier under their command intentionally killed a British peace activist in Gaza.
Tom Hurndall, 22, died after being shot in broad daylight by an Israeli soldier who later said his commanders had issued orders allowing him to shoot even unarmed civilians. Sergeant Taysir Hayb was convicted of manslaughter by an Israeli court and jailed for eight years for shooting Mr Hurndall in April 2003 as the Briton tried to rescue children who froze in fear after the soldier opened fire.
Yesterday a jury at St Pancras coroner's court in London found Mr Hurndall had been unlawfully killed and deliberately shot by the soldier "with the intention of killing him". Lawyers for the Hurndall family said this amounted to a finding that the peace activist had been murdered.
Last week the same court found that a journalist, James Miller, had been murdered after being shot by an Israeli soldier three weeks after Mr Hurndall, and just one mile away in southern Gaza.
Andrew Reid, the coroner who heard both cases, announced he would write to the attorney general about how similar fatalities could be prevented, including examining possible prosecutions of Israeli commanders. In court Dr Reid said he would write to the attorney because the case raised wider issues of command in the Israeli military and because "two British citizens engaged in lawful activities" had been killed by Israeli soldiers.
Dr Reid said Israel's army posed a danger to British nationals, especially those covering the continuing conflict with the Palestinians: "British citizens, journalists, photographers or others may be subject to the risk of fatal shots."
The coroner said he would write to the attorney general about whether his powers under the Geneva Conventions Act, namely seeking the prosecution of those involved in issuing orders about when soldiers can shoot, could "prevent similar fatalities". Dr Reid's actions boost the Hurndall family's demand that Israeli officers be tried for involvement in the killing of their son.
The dead man's father, Anthony Hurndall, said: "The British government is obliged to pursue any source of a war crime, and wilful killing is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions Act."
After the verdict a government source told the Guardian the attorney general would "not shy away" from acting, and that "upsetting the Israelis" would not stop the case being pursued.
Michael Mansfield QC, who represented the family at the inquest, said: "Make no mistake about it, the Israeli defence force have today been found culpable by this jury of murder."
The family will seek a meeting with senior British ministers to press them to act, and do not rule out a private prosecution.
The jury criticised Israel for its "lack of cooperation" with the inquest, with the Israeli government declining to take part and even hampering a British police investigation. In court Anthony Hurndall accused Israel of "lies".
The jury heard extracts from the journal of the peace activist, who travelled to Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement. Days before he was shot, Mr Hurndall, a photography student from north London, wrote how he had already been fired at: "I kept expecting a part of my body to be hit by an 'invisible' force and shot of pain ... I wondered what it would be like to be shot, and strangely I wasn't too scared."
In a later passage he writes about being in the sights of an Israeli sniper: "It is in the decision of any one Israeli soldier or settler that my life depends. I know that I'd probably never know what hit me."
Israel's embassy in London expressed sympathy for the Hurndall family and said: "Throughout the investigation and trial, the Israeli authorities maintained close contact with both the Hurndall family and the British authorities, and at the conclusion of the proceedings a full account was given to them."
It's going on and on. There have been a million and one articles now, finally, becasue of the millions who have taken to the streets to say, "We aren't going anywhere." You know what I'm talking about. After years of racist attacks on immingrants from a core group of politicans and their supporters, the "immigrants" have struck back...in a big way.
Anyway, here is an interesting article from New American Media about how a group of high school students in LA managed to make a statement that no one could ignore.
This Ain't No Hippie Peace Movement
New America Media, Commentary, Daffodil Altan, Apr 10, 2006
Editor's Note: Pundits and commentators missed the skill and potency of student walkouts protesting the Sensenbrenner bill, instead choosing to criticize something they don't understand. Daffodil Altan is a writer and editor at New America Media. Additional reporting by Carolyn Goossen.
LOS ANGELES--The best they could do was pick on their choice of flag -- Mexican instead of American.
When the world of adults observed the thousands of students spilling into Los Angeles streets, they couldn't point to rioting or violence because the walkouts were peaceful. They couldn't point to the students' lack of organization because their destination was clear. So instead of praising the nearly 40,000 students who walked out of their Los Angeles schools en masse March 27 on their near flawless protests, adults -- mostly on the media front -- found various ways to bring them down, to undermine their political activism by filing their demonstrations away as nothing more than truancy.
"Some students, they knew what they what they were going out for, they just didn't know how to say it, you know," says Brenda Rodriguez, a senior at Wilson High School in East Los Angeles. "But when there's like people who underestimate them, it kinda brings them down, you know."
Maybe it has to do with California's damaged education system, or maybe with the fact that immigrants and minorities make up the bulk of California's students. But for some reason, adults don't seem to have as much faith in teenagers -- especially poor ones of color -- and their capacity to ignite and deliver a political message. But the spontaneous eruption of a massive, co-ordinated walkout was proof that these students, no matter how poor, deprived, or English-limited, used technology, education and networking to make themselves heard.
"You know how they say that you have to take action and show what you're going for in order for them to pay attention to you?" says Brenda. "So it's like, that's exactly what they did. And as you can see, worldwide, nationally, everyone did the same thing. I think we were on the right page with what we did."
No one knows exactly how it started, or by whom, but there were fliers, text messages, MySpace bulletins and the repetition of one code phrase -- HR4437 -- that circulated throughout schools and cyberspaces over the course of a few days. There was no formal leadership organizing the protests, no inspired pulpit voice, no radio or television personality telling them when and where to meet. This was a purely student driven, student generated, student executed moment. "I think everybody was a leader because they had to be. Because they stood up for themselves," says Miguel Lopez, a senior at Garfield High School in East L.A. who walked out.
This should make grownups nervous. Because if you don't have anyone telling the kids what to do, then what they represent is sheer and potent. Some will soon turn or are already 18. Many will vote. And no one has paused to reckon with them.
"These students, they feel a part of it," says Lorena Rodriguez, a senior at Garfield High School. "They feel like they belong in this issue. And it's not just their parents that are at risk here. It might be also them."
There's nothing in these students' sentiments that drips with the politicized language of eager college activists. The call wasn't for anarchism or socialism. Most simply felt they had no choice but to stand up for themselves. The call was for a stop to bills like HR4437 -- which passed in the House and which would make felons out of undocumented immigrants, their families and anyone else caught within arm's reach of them. Although legislation is now stalled, students want to make sure that the government knows that legislation like HR4437 will not slip beneath their radar.
"We were just right there showing support for our parents and showing that we don't think it's right what they're doing and they can't try to just sneak up this stupid law on us," says Jennifer Lopez, a senior at Manual Arts High School in South L.A.
Miguel Lopez, the East L.A. high school senior who dreams of going to U.C. Berkeley was born in the United States but has an undocumented sister. Legislation like HR4437 would land in the middle of his family's living room. And threaten to break them apart, he says. This is scary. Scary enough to organize around, to yell and scream about.
"I don't think the moment has passed," says Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "I think these young people are undergoing a transformation." The mayor told students that he supported their efforts, but made it clear that he expected them to go back to school, a position that drew criticism and confused students, especially since Villaraigosa had participated in the famous Chicano student walkouts in 1968.
"I told these kids, 'Now If you want to walk out after school, on Saturday and Sunday, you can do that. There's a right way and a wrong way. In a school district where half of us are failing, you can't miss five or six days...We can't have you fail.'"
So, in an effort to be taken more seriously, East L.A. students with a group called Inner City Struggle organized an after-school protest April 7, which culminated in front of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The students asked that the district declare itself a safe zone for undocumented students and their families and take a stand against punitive legislation. The only media that was there to cover the event was the Spanish-language daily newspaper La Opinion. None of the big English news outlets -- which had reported on the student walkouts closely the week before -- showed up.
But that has not deterred students from continuing to organize -- and to organize across races. "All of our like friends, like Asian, Mexicans, African-Americans, we're all like on the same page because they all migrated from somewhere," says Brenda.
At Community Coalition, an organization in South Central L.A. that caters to teens in the area, the goal is to bridge what some call the "black-brown divide." "We're always fighting against that stereotype," says Robert Battles, the lead youth organizer at the center. "This immigration bill is pretty much a throwback to slavery. It's not something that just affects the Latino community, it affects the whole global community." Students from the South Central organization met up with students from East L.A. for the rally in front of the L.A. Unified School District headquarters.
There is an overwhelming sense in Los Angeles that the point of this political moment for these students is not the advancement of a theme, but the redefinition of what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. There is a genuine excitement for the legitimate force they represent in numbers -- and the power that their collective voices have the capacity to wield. "It was really, really great 'cause at first you were like, it's like the students are like Chicano power," says Miguel. "It was like our selves. It's our own kind. It's the youth actually speaking out and walking, doing this for a change."
Philadelphia's 12th Street Gym is the city's renowned "gay gym". 12th Street prides itself as a member of Philadelphia's gay community, is prominently located in a gay neighborhood and has long been rewarded with an overwhelming, loyal gay membership.
Many in the community angrily wondered why, then, the part owner of Philadelphias predominantly gay gym, Bob Guzzardi, would support politicians who attack the gay community. Posters raged on blogs and message boards, the Daily News Ronnie Polaneczky wrote about the issue in February. There were many calls for gays to cancel their 12 th Street Gym memberships, or at least make their frustrations known to the management.
Guzzardi, a real estate lawyer and property owner, first sparked criticism when it was discovered that he contributed almost $5,000 to extreme right-wing Senator Rick Santorum. However, he also gave funds to Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Co), Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Co), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Ka), and others. Musgrave is the author of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have changed the US Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, and Allard was the Senator who introduced it in the Senate. Brownback is an extreme-right wing figure who opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. According to Liberty City, Guzzardi has given over $150,000 to anti-gay politicians and PACs.
Guess what happened.
The following story comes to us from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Gym boycott averted after news of sale
They won the battle without firing a shot.
A group of gay and Democratic activists yesterday turned the planned launch of a boycott of Philadelphia's 12th Street Gym into a victory rally after a change in the ownership of the business.
They had targeted the gym, popular in the city's gay community, to protest owner Bob Guzzardi's financial support of Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) and other conservative candidates and causes.
But Guzzardi defused the situation by agreeing on Friday to sell his share of the gym to co-owner Rick Piper, according to Piper and boycott organizers.
"In gay politics, we so rarely get to celebrate a victory, we didn't know what to do at first," said Kelly Groves, cochairman of the Liberty City Democratic Club, an organization of gay and lesbian activists. "This is big news for us."
Liberty City was joined by Philly for Change, a grassroots group that grew from Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, and Philadelphians Against Santorum, a group started by blogger/activist Ray Murphy.
Piper, who also has long been the manager of the 12th Street Gym, said that he had an agreement to buy out Guzzardi's interest, effective next month. He said the deal was struck because of the pending protest.
"Next month will mark 20 years that 12th Street has been an open, welcoming environment to all the communities we serve - a place without politics or pressure to be anything but yourself," Piper said.
Santorum has drawn ire from gay activists because of his opposition to marriage for homosexuals. In now-infamous comments in 2003, Santorum said states had the right to ban homosexual acts, just as they do incest, adultery, polygamy, and "man on dog" bestiality.
Shortly after 5 p.m. yesterday, about a dozen people patrolled the Center City sidewalk in front of 12th Street Gym. Many protesters carried signs, including one that declared the area a "Santorum-Free Zone." Activists also passed out wanted-style flyers demanding "Robert Guzzardi: Get Out of the Gayborhood!"
The flyer urged tenants of buildings managed by Guzzardi's company, Chancellor Properties, to call, fax or e-mail him to protest his support of "anti-gay causes" and Santorum.
Guzzardi declined to comment yesterday. Piper declined to disclose details of their transaction.
Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, said that controversy over Guzzardi had bubbled beneath the surface in activist circles for several years, but that the gym also had been a steadfast supporter of gay charities.
"This [sale] is a great success," but hardly surprising, Segal said. "If a good percentage of your business is gay and lesbian, and they're going to boycott you, it's a problem."
Murphy, the founder of the anti-Santorum group, said, "We're going to keep an eye out" to make sure Guzzardi does divest from the business. He said his political action committee hopes to boost voter turnout in Philadelphia to help defeat Santorum.
"This is going to send a message to other businesses that they might want to think twice," Murphy said.
Almost two years ago, the Swiss justice ministry warned of a possible crisis in crowded Swiss jails. At that time the union which represented prison guards said seven inmates were often sharing cells designed to hold four.
A more recent report found that the detention center Champ-Dollon had the highest average occupancy rate – 162% or 438 inmates for 270 places.
Yesterday the Swiss Human Rights League met with prisoners about the poor conditions, overcrowding, and allegations of police maltreatment in the jails.
The following is from SwissInfo.
Mass hunger strike threat at overcrowded jail
Two hundred prisoners at Switzerland's most overcrowded jail are threatening to go on hunger strike over poor conditions and alleged police brutality.
Human rights campaigners, who have visited inmates at Champ-Dollon prison in Geneva, describe the situation as "potentially explosive".
"The prison is so overcrowded at the moment that even the smallest problem could turn out badly," said Doris Leuenberger, vice-president of the Swiss Human Rights League (SHRL).
The Geneva lawyer was part of a four-strong team that met a delegation of seven prisoners at the jail on Monday. The visit came in response to a petition signed by 200 inmates sent to the Geneva authorities earlier this year, outlining a list of complaints.
They include allegations of excessive use of force against suspects held in police custody, a practice that an independent police watchdog in the city says is "widespread".
Another grievance is the painfully slow legal process, which means suspects spend months in Champ-Dollon before being brought to trial.
Leuenberger cited one example where a prisoner spent eight months in preventive custody only to receive a two-month sentence when his case finally came to trial.
The SHRL wants the canton to set up a special court for dealing with suspects caught in the act of committing crimes to speed up the legal process.
"There will be major trouble at the prison if this situation is not resolved," Leuenberger warned. "The hunger strike threat is on the table and much depends on what action the authorities take."
Champ-Dollon, which is notorious for being the country's most overcrowded prison, currently contains 485 prisoners. Its normal capacity is set at 270.
Last month the authorities announced plans to build a new block at a cost of around SFr10 million ($7.68 million) on land adjacent to the prison, with room for 64 inmates.
"The problem of overcrowding means that normal conditions cannot be respected. One of the regular complaints we get is lack of access to medical care," Damien Scalia, a member of the SHRL's prisons committee, told swissinfo.
Constantin Franziskakis, director of canton Geneva's prison service, admitted that the situation inside the jail was "very difficult" because of overcrowding. But he said he hoped the new block would ease the situation.
Geneva's justice and police department was unavailable for comment on the complaints set out in the prisoners' petition.
Monday, April 10, 2006
In 1915, the Ottoman Empire embarked on a campaign to exterminate the Armenian population through slaughter and mass deportation. It succeded in killing about 1.2 million people. More than 90 years later the US State Department still can't say the word "genocide" in regards to what happened then. The State Department officially refers to the "massacre" of Armenians under the Ottoman Turkish Empire but has never described the conflict as a deliberate attempt to eliminate an entire race of people. It doesn't want to upset a strategic ally - Turkey.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans publicly referred to the 1915 slaughter as `genocide."
A firestorm arose. Turkey, in particular, was outraged.
Unhappy lawmakers and activists contend Evans is being forced from his post because of those comments.
Sounding as if he were reciting carefully prepared talking points, Evans himself spoke delicately about his current status.
"I am still the ambassador," Evans said in a brief interview recently during a Washington visit. "I have not submitted my retirement papers."
At the same time, Evans underscored the temporary nature of any diplomatic posting.
In any event, the following is from Asbarez Armenian Daily.
Rock Band Launches Washington, DC Campaign for Armenian Genocide Recognition
LOS ANGELES -- Serj Tankian and John Dolmayan of the Grammy Award-winning band System Of A Down will travel to Washington, DC on April 24 for a three-day campaign to urge Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and other Congressional leaders to end their complicity in Turkey's ongoing denial of the Armenian genocide.
On the evening of Monday, April 24, starting at 5:00 PM, band members will join with the Armenian National Committee of America and Armenian Youth Federation in leading a grassroots demonstration outside the gates of the Turkish Embassy at 2525 Massachusetts Ave., in Northwest Washington, DC. The Turkish government, through its Embassy in Washington, spends millions of dollars each year to bully, threaten, and blackmail the US government not to recognize the Armenian genocide.
The band members will devote Tuesday, April 25 to providing interviews to the political media in Washington, and, in the evening, hosting a Congressional screening of "Screamers," a new documentary by filmmaker Carla Garapedian about the band's worldwide campaign for Armenian genocide recognition.
On Wednesday April 26, System will meet with key Members of Congress to urge them to allow a vote on legislation recognizing the Armenian genocide, and at 5:30 PM will participate in the annual Capitol Hill commemoration of the Armenian genocide. This event, now in its 11th year, is regularly attended by over 30 Members of Congress, diplomats, ethnic community leaders, human rights activists, genocide prevention advocates, and Armenian Americans from across the country.
Beginning on April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Turkish government began a centrally planned and systematically executed campaign to annihilate the Armenian people from their ancient homeland. By 1923 over 1.5 million Armenians were killed and hundreds of thousands deported, in what constituted the first genocide of the 20th century.
Congressional legislation recognizing this crime (HR 316 / HCR195 / SR320) has broad bipartisan support, but has been blocked from coming to a vote by Congressional leaders, despite the fact that, five years ago, US House Speaker Dennis Hastert promised to allow Members to vote on this human rights measure.
In September of last year, Serj Tankian and John Dolmayan from the band traveled to the Speaker's hometown of Batavia, Illinois to lead a rally urging him to allow a vote on the Armenian genocide legislation. During the rally, Tankian delivered a personal and powerfully worded message calling on the Speaker to do the right thing, and stressing that "historical truths should never be denied in a democracy--especially one with such a proud heritage of freedom."
Speaker Hastert has it in his power to accomplish one of System's goals--official US recognition of Turkey's destruction of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. By allowing Congress to vote on this legislation, Speaker Hastert can end US denial of this crime and open the doors to justice--to the restoration, reparation, and restitution owed to the victims of genocide. By continuing to block a vote on this legislation, Hastert effectively joins in the denial of this crime against humanity, and the denial of justice to an entire nation.
The members of System Of A Down, Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, John Dolmayan, and Shavo Odadjian all personally lost family members and family history to the Armenian genocide. "Because so much of my family history was lost in the Armenian genocide," said Malakian, "my grandfather, who was very young at the time, doesn't know his true age. How many people can say they don't know how old they are?" Tankian, Dolmayan, and Odadjian all identify their grandparents' memories as the only links they have to their respective family histories, as most of their families were obliterated during the Armenian genocide.
"It's important for people to be aware of the Armenian genocide," explained Tankian, "and that those actions continue to be covered up by the Turkish government, the US State Department, Turkey's allies in the defense and oil industries, and by our present US Administration. Had the Armenian genocide been acknowledged as a crime against humanity as it was, Hitler might not have thought he could get away with the Jewish Holocaust. History does and will repeat itself, unless we stop that cycle."