Saturday, May 13, 2006
An 18-year-old man with an an extreme-right background shot and killed a Turkish woman during a racist outrage in Antwerp Thursday.After shooting and severely injuring the 47-year-old Turkish woman, Hans Van Themsche, 18, then shot and killed a pregnant Malinese woman, before killing a two-year-old native Flemish girl.
His rampage ended when a police officer shot Van Themsche in the stomach. He will now undergo police questioning in hospital on Friday.
Van Themsche had shaved his head just days before his shooting spree. But a note later recovered from his home by police suggests that his racist politics was more deeply rooted. His father had been a founding member of the Vlaams Blok, the anti-immigration, Flemish separatist party renamed Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Interest, in 2004 in a bid to broaden its appeal. His aunt, Frieda Van Themsche, is a VB member of the Belgian parliament.The Vlaams Blok has risen from murky neo-fascist roots to reinvent itself as a modern, free-market party and become the biggest in Dutch-speaking Flanders, the richest part of Belgium with 60 percent of the population.
The article below is from Xinhua.
Silent march held to honor Antwerp shooting victims
Hundreds of shocked local residents turned out in silent protest on Friday in the Belgian city of Antwerp at the scene of Thursday's shooting of three people in the city center.
Family members of the au pair headed the procession which included Antwerp Mayor Patrick Janssens and many other local politicians.
The march followed a route from St. Mary's Cathedral to the various scenes of Thursday's shootings.
Flowers were laid and candles were lit during a minute's silence observed at the site of the attack on a Turkish woman and the place of the murder of a young black woman and a Flemish toddler.
Shocked immigrant communities have condemned the shooting and called on governments at local, regional and federal levels to take measures against extreme right movements and eliminate racism.
"This cowardly murder may not drive the population groups in Antwerp apart," the Union of Turkish Associations, the Afrikaans Platform, the Antwerp Urban Consultation Council, the Federation of Moroccan Associations, Voem and the Pakistan Community said in a statement.
"This must stop. The leaders of the far right parties are, at the least, morally responsible for these appalling deeds," the statement said.
"The governments (local, Flemish and federal) must now wage a policy of zero tolerance against all forms of racism and against extreme-rights," it said.
Mohammed Chakkar, coordinator of the Federation of Moroccan Organizations, said the series of racially motivated attacks in Belgium over the past week revealed decades of racial hatred.
He appealed for more powerful action against racism in the Belgian society.
Earlier, police raided the house where the 18-year-old culprit of Thursday's killings lives and found plans indicating that he carefully planned his killing spree.
The young man, Hans van Themsche, has been identified as the nephew of Flemish Interest legislator Frieda van Themsche. His father was also a member of the extreme-right party, the successorof the Flemish Block which was convicted of racism in 2004.
According to the justice department in George Bush Sr's administration, Orlando Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed.
In 1990, George Bush Sr. pardoned Orlando Bosch. Bosch was being held in a Florida prison after illegally entering the U.S. in 1988. Bosch was released and permitted to reside in Florida under an extraordinary deal with the Bush Justice Department.
Much of the credit went to the terrorist mass murderer's best-connected White House lobbyist --- who at the time was a budding local politican. His name - Jeb Bush.
The following intriging article is from PERIÓDICO 26 (Cuba).
What did Bush Sr. Know?
REINALDO TALADRID HERRERO
On October 6, 1976, the worst terrorist act in the history of Latin America took place when a Cuban airliner was blown up in mid flight off the coast of Barbados. All 73 passengers and crew members died.
George Bush Sr. never answered the questions he was asked at the Senate hearing on the matter. To the contrary, over a decade later as president of the United States, he arrogantly pardoned Orlando Bosch, a scenario that is very likely to be repeated by his son with another Cuban-born terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.
In October 1976, the CIA Director was George Hebert Walker Bush, father of the current president of the United States. Recently declassified documents prove that he was well aware of how these monsters had masterminded the plane explosion.
What in fact did the CIA and the US Intelligence Community know at that time about this terrorist act?
Specifically, what did the Director of the CIA know?
Twelve years later, on September 7, 1988, during a US Senate hearing, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), took the floor to ask several questions to then vice president and presidential candidate George H.W. Bush. He asked:
“Mr. Bush, when you were CIA Director in 1976, did you ever investigate the role of Posada and others in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner?
“Mr. Bush you were the director of the CIA when the sabotage took place and 73 people lost their lives and you took a personal interest to look into that and a the chain of related anti-Castro bomb explosions that shocked the hemisphere in 1976.
“The bombing of the plane in 1976, according to federal officials in Miami, was undertaken by a coalition of anti-Castro paramilitary groups known as CORU.
“Concerned with this wave of attacks, you, Mr Bush, as Director of the CIA, made a week-end trip in early November of 1976 to Miami, accompanied by a seasoned FBI officer, reportedly, to look into the Cuban connection with the sabotage against the plane and the assassination of (Orlando) Letelier here in Washington.”
George Bush Sr. was very well aware of the whereabouts of these characters when they blew up the Cuban Airliner with the 73 people on board. As Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Bush received all secret wires that kept the US government informed of what was going on with these two people.
“The real question is, given the former links of Posada with the CIA, the knowledge of the CIA with the Cuban connection between the sabotage against the plane and the attempt against Letelier in 1976, why, as Director of the CIA were you not aware of the role played by Posada in all this at that time? Why wasn’t there any action taken at that moment?”
The senator’s questions were never answered and they hardly got any attention from the press.
The truth is that today they still have not been answered by Bush Sr.
However, recently declassified documents by the National Archives of the George Washington University may shed some light about what Bush Sr. did know at that time.
As senator Harkin revealed, Bush Sr. did travel to Miami in November of 1976, accompanied by an FBI high-ranking officer, according to the information disclosed in those documents, he already knew that Posada and Bosh were responsible for the sabotage.
Let us take a look, according to US government documents, what he knew about this terrorist act before travelling to Miami:
A CIA document dated June 22, 1976, and classified by the agency as “delicate source of intelligence information” reads:
Subject: Possible plans by Cuban exile extremists to blow up a Cubana airliner.
Source: A businessman with close ties with the Cuban exile community. He is usually a reliable source.
A group of extremist Cuban exiles under the direction of Orlando Bosch plans to plant a bomb in a Cubana de Aviacion airlines flight operating between Panama and Habana. According to the initial plans for that operation, two bombs were required to be planted on Cuban flight 467 of June 21, 1976, that was scheduled to depart Panama at 11.15 AM Panama local time.
On October 8, 1976, and with the terrorist act on the Barbados plane having already taken place, in Washington the Director of the FBI sent a secret document described as "top level and of the highest priority" to 14 high ranking officials , among the director of the CIA. The text stated:
On October 7, 1976 the confidential source also said that on account of the arrest of Vazquez and Lugo in Trinidad, (here the text was covered over), Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch’s departure from Venezuela as soon as posible was coordinated. The source practically admitted that Posada and Bosch had been the architects of the in-flight blowing up of the aircraft, and promised to provide more details about the events of October 6, 1976.
The confidential source is (here the document was again .... crossed out)
From the statements by (crossed out) it seems almost sure that the (crossed out) knew about the activities of Posada and Bosch and that now was trying to disassociate himself from them…
Another CIA secret document, dated October 13, 1976 addressed to the FBI Intelligence Division states:
"Subject: Clues about the persons involved in the Cubana airliner accident, that occurred on October 6, 1976.
1. This Agency has carried out an investigation about the names of the persons that presumably participated in the blowing up of the Cubana de Aviacion flight.
2. We have determined that this Agency was linked to one person whose name has been mentioned in relation with the notified explosion.
The employer of Lugo and Lozano in Caracas was Luis Posada Carriles... Posada is an ex agent of the CIA. He was dismissed on amicable terms in July 1967, but in October 1967 reestablished contact.... we continue making occasional contacts with him.
But there is still more:
There is an Intelligence Information cable from the CIA Directorate of Operations dated October 14, 1976, classified as "priority" and sent to 14 high level officials, where the following is stated:
"The source is an ex-official of the Venezuelan government who still keeps close ties with government officials. In general the information provided by him is reliable."
In a $1,118 dollars a plate fund raising banquet for Bosch at that took place at the home of Hildo Folgar, a Cuban exile and well known surgeon, Bosch, stated: "Now that our organization has come out in good standing after the Letelier job, we are going to attempt something else."
Some days after the fund raising banquet, Posada was heard saying the following: "We are going to bring down a Cubana plane, Orlando has the details."
After the Cubana aircraft crashed near the coast of Barbados on October 6, Bosch, Garcia and Posada, agreed that it would be better that Bosch left Venezuela.
... Garcia talked to Legatt Sunday morning, October 10th, and during the afternoon of the October 12 and told him in unofficially that the President will be communicating to me shortly that Bosch will be handed over to the United States.
A secret dispatch of the FBI San Juan, Puerto Rico office , addressed to the FBI director was also declassifed. In it can be read:
"On October 20, 1976, a confidential source, who has provided reliable information
on previous occasions, communicated the following:
CORU member Secundino Guerra, who recently returned from a trip to Miami where he held consultations with members of CORU, admitted that CORU was responsible for the bombing of the Cubana de Aviacion DC-8 plane on October 6, 1976. Carrera declared that as far as he was concerned the bomb attack and the deaths it caused where fully justified because CORU was at war with the regime of Fidel Castro...
Carrera noted that CORU was pleased with the publicity that the presumed participation of the US government in the attack was given, because that publicity has served to somewhat reduce the "pressure" on CORU."
Lastly, there is a secret high-level report of November 2, 1976 from the FBI director in Miami. It states the following:
“On November 1, 1976, a confidential source who has furnished reliable information in the past advised that on October 23-24, 1976, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, comisario in charge of section D54, a counterintelligence section of DISIP (Venezuelan intelligence service), furnished the following information to source:
“Some plans regarding the bombing of a Cubana Airlines airplane were discussed at the bar in the Anauco Hilton Hotel in Caracas, Venezuela, at which meeting Frank Castro, Gustavo Castillo, Luis Posada Carriles and Morales Navarrete were present. This meeting took place sometime before the bombing of the Cubana Airlines DC-8 near Barbados on October 6, 1976.
“Morales Navarrete told the source that another meeting to plan the bombing of a Cubana Airliner took place n the apartment of Morales Navarrete in the Anuco Hilton. This meeting was also prior to the bombing of the Cubana airliner on October 6, 1976. Present at this meeting were Morales Navarrete, Posada Carriles and Frank Castro. According to Morales Navarrete, at this meeting there was some disagreement as to who would take part in the various phases of the operation, and who would claim credit for the bombing. Frank Castro said the FLNC (National Liberation Front of Cuba) would take credit.
“Morales Navarrete said that after the Cubana airliner crash, Hernan Ricardo Lozano telephoned Orlando Bosch from Trinidad stating "A bus with 73 dogs went off a cliff and all got killed."
Bosch, knowing that many phone calls are tapped by the Venezuelan government, pretended he did not know what Hernan Ricardo Lozano was talking about.
“Source said that in a conversation with Orlando Garcia Vasquez, Minister Counselor on Security Matters to Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, Garcia Vasquez told source that shortly after the Cubana crash, Vasquez talked to Carlos Fabri, the bomb expert for DISIP. Garcia Vasquez told Fabri that he would have to testify at any trial in this matter regarding bombs and their components. According to Garcia Vasquez, Fabri became very nervous and Garcia Vasquez told source he believes that Fabri either made the bomb for this Cubana bombing, instructed persons on how to make it, or at least had prior knowledge of the bombing.
“Source said that he also conversed with a member of the Venezuelan Policia Tecnica Judicial (Judicial Technical Police) (PTJ) in Caracas. This member, whose name source does not recall, but who has a Polish name, said that after the Cubana airliner crashed, the PTJ knew who was involved and therefore wanted to handle the investigation. However, the PTJ was denied the investigation and DISIP took over the matter "to cover it up". This PTJ member also told source that if Carlos Fabri did not make the bomb, then he at least had prior knowledge of the matter.
“Source said that Fabri and Posada Carriles are good friends and that Fabri and Posada had actually been arrested a couple of years ago by Venezuelan authorities after it was learned they provided false documentation and explosives to Dr. Orlando Bosch Avila in Venezuela at that time.
“Source is Raul Diaz, Organized Crime Bureau, Dade County Public Safety Department, who traveled to Venezuela on October 22, 1976, in an attempt to convince Morales Navarrete to testify in the November 15, 1976 state trial of Rolando Otero for nine bombings in Miami, including that of the Miami FBI office.
“Raul Diaz asked that the name of the source not be revealed… It should be pointed out that Raul Diaz is a friend of Morales Navarrete.”
George Bush Sr., then the CIA director, was aware of all of the previous information before going to Miami to investigate the situation along with a veteran FBI officer.
It was never revealed what they learned or investigated on that trip to Miami in November 1976.
But if we look at the addressees of the cables and reports, all or almost all of what Bush Sr. knew in October, 1976 apparently was known at the highest levels of the US government.
Shortly after the US government told the Venezuelan authorities that they did not have any information about the bombing to use in the trial against the accused authors of the terrorist act.
Just days after Senator Harkin asked his questions at the Senate hearing, George Bush Sr. was elected President of the United States.
Shortly after, Bush Sr. granted a presidential pardon to Orlando Bosch.
He never answered Sen. Tom Harkin’s question. Why?
Dear reader, its up to you to draw your own conclusions.
Friday, May 12, 2006
I figure everyone has to make some comments on the NSA phone deal, so here goes. Am I surprised that our government feels a need to keep track of billions of phone records? Nope, but I would be surprised if they didn't do it. I'd pretty much assume they also track emails and computer musing. Shoot, in the computer age which makes all this possible it's just too much fun for spook geeks to miss.
If they check out my calls they'll find I talk to my sister, an old friend who used to live in North Dakota, but suscpiciously moved to St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia), and that most late afternoons I place a call to my other (to find out when she'll be home so I'll know when to get dinner together - at least that is my story). I hate the phone actually.
I remember fondly the 60s when I never even had a phone (well except for the time I lived in this commune that had a pay phone on the wall near the front door).
And I have signed up on the "no call" list.
So don't call me and I won't call you.
Anyway, the comment below was taken from Consortium News.
This Time, It Really Is Orwellian
By Robert Parry
May 12, 2006
Given George W. Bush’s history of outright lying, especially on national security matters, it may seem silly to dissect his words about the new disclosure that his administration has collected phone records of some 200 million Americans.
But Bush made two parse-able points in reacting to USA Today’s story about the National Security Agency building a vast database of domestic phone calls. “We’re not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans,” Bush said, adding “the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.”
In his brief remarks, however, Bush didn’t define what he meant by “ordinary Americans” nor whether the data-mining might cover, say, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people, just not “millions.”
For instance, would a journalist covering national security be regarded as an “ordinary American”? What about a political opponent or an anti-war activist who has criticized administration policies in the Middle East? Such “unordinary” people might number in the tens of thousands, but perhaps not into the millions.
Also, isn’t it reasonable to suspect that the Bush administration would be tempted to tap into its huge database to, say, check on who might have been calling reporters at the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker – or now USA Today – where significant national security stories have been published?
Or during Campaign 2004, wouldn’t the White House political apparatchiks have been eager to know whether, say, Sen. John Kerry had been in touch with foreign officials who might have confided that they were worried about Bush gaining a second term?
Or what about calls to and from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald while he investigates a White House leak of the identity of Valerie Plame, the CIA officer married to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, an Iraq War critic?
What if one of these “unordinary” Americans had placed a lot of calls to an illicit lover or a psychiatrist? Wouldn’t Bush’s aggressive political operatives know just how to make the most of such information?
While such concerns might seem paranoid to some observers, Bush has blurred his political fortunes with the national interest before, such as his authorization to Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff in mid-2003 to put out classified material on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to undercut Ambassador Wilson.
Though Plame was an undercover CIA officer working on sensitive WMD investigations, her classified identity was bandied about – and ultimately disclosed – by the likes of White House political adviser Karl Rove, who had no real “need to know” a discrete intelligence secret that sensitive.
In a court filing on April 5, 2006, Fitzgerald said his investigation uncovered government documents that “could be characterized as reflecting a plan to discredit, punish, or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson” because of his criticism of the administration’s handling of the evidence on Iraq’s alleged pursuit of enriched uranium in Africa.
There are also historical reasons to suspect that the administration might be inclined to use its huge database against its critics. Some senior administration officials, such as Cheney, held key government jobs in the 1970s when one of the goals of spying on Americans was to ferret out suspected links between U.S. dissidents and foreign powers.
It had become an article of faith for some government officials that the civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War protests must have been orchestrated and financed by some international enemy of the United States.
Some of the excesses in those investigations, such as the bugging of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and break-ins targeting Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, led to new laws in the 1970s limiting the power of the Executive.
For instance, in 1978, Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which tried to balance the government’s legitimate interest in tracking foreign agents and the citizens’ constitutional right of protection against unreasonable searches.
However, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Bush asserted “plenary” – or unlimited – powers as Commander in Chief and brushed aside legal requirements that the government obtain a warrant through a special FISA court before eavesdropping on phone calls inside the United States.
After making that decision, Bush lied to conceal what he had done. On April 20, 2004, he told a crowd in Buffalo, N.Y., that warrants were still required for all wiretaps.
“By the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires – a wiretap requires a court order,” Bush said. “Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.”
After the New York Times disclosed the warrantless wiretapping program in December 2005, Bush continued to misrepresent the program, calling it “limited” to “taking known al-Qaeda numbers – numbers from known al-Qaeda people – and just trying to find out why the phone calls are being made.”
In his folksy style, he told an audience in Louisville, Kentucky, on Jan. 11, 2006, that “it seems like to me that if somebody is talking to al-Qaeda, we want to know why.”
But the program that Bush described could easily have been accomplished through warrants under the FISA law, which lets the government wiretap for 72 hours before going to a secret court for a warrant.
Even before the USA Today disclosure on May 11, 2006, it was clear that Bush’s spying program was much larger than he had let on. Indeed, the operation was reportedly big enough to generate thousands of tips each month, which were passed on to the FBI.
“But virtually all of [the tips], current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans,” the New York Times reported. “FBI officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. … Some FBI officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans’ privacy.” [NYT, Jan. 17, 2006]
Also, undermining Bush’s claims about the limited nature of the NSA’s activities is why the administration would need to possess the complete phone records of the 200 million customers of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth – if the government were only conducting what Bush and his aides have called a “targeted terrorist surveillance program.”
(Qwest, a Colorado-based company with about 14 million customers, refused to turn over its records to the government because there was no court order, USA Today reported.)
The stated goal of tracking phone numbers that had been called by al-Qaeda operatives could be easily done with warrants from the FISA court. There would be no need to compile every personal and business call made by 200 million Americans.
“It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” one person told USA Today. The program’s goal is “to create a database of every call ever made” within the nation's borders, the person said. [USA Today, May 11, 2006]
In describing Bush’s policies over the past several years, the word “Orwellian” has sometimes been overused. But a government decision to electronically warehouse the trillions of phone numbers called by its citizens over their lifetimes is the essence of George Orwell’s Big Brother nightmare.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'
In 2002, peasants around Atenco, Mexico mobilized en mass to defeat the Mexican government’s expropriation of their land to build a new international airport. Last week the town suffered police brutalities as the government attempted to break the community and seize the land. Hundreds were attacked, some killed – the struggle continues. Around the World, people are joining in solidarity with this injustice.
Was the attack on the town just happenstance. Of course not. Prensa Latina (PL)speculates:
"Could it have something to do with the residents´ sympathy for, and growing popularity of the Zapatista Other Campaign during the presidential elections?
"Is this another Fox move to cozy up to Bush, who fears all political alternatives in Latin America and would hate a Cuban or Venezuelan or Bolivian, much less a Mexican, style sovereign state next door?"
"The farmers of Atenco are famous for having successfully resisted, with machetes, forced displacement to make way for another Mexico City Airport in 2002. The farming community at that time formed the People"s Front in Defense of Land, which provided security for Sub Commander Marcos during this May Day march in Mexico City where Front leader, Ignacio Del Valle, spoke to the tens of thousands rallying in the main plaza.
The Mexican police invaded Del Valle´s home Thursday and per eye witness accounts, he has been very severely beaten."
Just yesterday demonstrators blocked highways leading into Mexico's capital on to protest against the police assault on the town and to demand the release of prisoners.The protesters, many of them students, stopped long lines of traffic on several major highways leading into Mexico City in a protest backed by Subcomandante Marcos whom had issued a Red Alert following the attack on Atenco.
The following comes from the series "The Other Journalism With The Other Campaign - On The Road with Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos and the Simple and Humble People Who Fight" found on the Narco News web site.
“They Ordered Me to Lay My Head In a Pool of Blood”
A Letter from Valentina Palma, Chilean Anthropology Student and Filmmaker Who Was Beaten, Tortured and Deported After the Violence in Atenco
By Valentina Palma Novoa
May 12, 2006
My name is Valentina Palma Novoa. I am 30 years old, and I have spent the last 11 years of my life in Mexico. I am a student at the National School of Anthropology and History, currently in my fourth year studying Cinematography at the Center for Cinematographic Study. I have an FM 3 student visa.
I would like to share with you the events that I witnessed during the violent incidents that occurred in the town of San Salvador Atenco on Thursday, May 4, 2006, which ended with my unjust and arbitrary expulsion from the country.
1.- On Wednesday, May 3, after seeing the news on television and learning of the death of a 14-year-old boy, I was moved by the death of this small child and, as an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, decided to go to San Salvador Atenco to assess the situation.
I spent the night in the town, documenting the patrol posts that the people of the town had set up, and interviewing the guards. It was cold. I drew closer to the small fires that the people had built and continued to take pictures. The light of dawn announced a new day: Thursday, May 4.
It must have been about 6am when the church bells of San Salvador Atenco began to ring – bong, bong, bong, over and over again – while a voice shouted over the loudspeaker that the police were surrounding the town. Bicycles hurried past in every direction. The bakery to one side of the church had already opened its doors and the warm smell of recently baked bread filled the street, together with the comings and goings of farmers on bicycles. The man who sold atoles told me to be careful, that the police who were coming were “real bastards.”
I headed towards one of the patrol posts, where the farmers were looking in the direction of the pack of police who could be seen in the distance. I zoomed in with my camera. I saw that there were many of them and that, covered by their shields, they were advancing with small and nearly imperceptible steps. I was afraid. There were many of them, heavily armed, while the farmers were few and unarmed. In the screen of my camera I saw one of the police point and shoot a projectile towards us; when it landed next to me, I could smell and feel that it was tear gas. More and more tear gas quickly began to overpower the warm smell of the recently baked bread and transformed the narrow alley into a battle field.
The air was no longer breathable and I went to the plaza as the church bells began to toll even louder. Down various streets, I could see the police in the distance, coming nearer. The little resistance that there was from the farm workers disappeared in the face of the attack that the police suddenly launched against the people. I turned my camera off and ran as fast as I could alongside everyone else. In front of the church, there was a public building with its doors open and I went inside to wait in vain for the turbulence to pass. There were two young men also hoping in vain to shield themselves from the attack. The three of us all looked each other in the face, anxious and fearful.
Cautiously, I got up to look at the street and I saw five police officers, devoid of any compassion, kicking and using their clubs to beat an old man who lay strewn on the ground. I became more afraid. I went inside and told the two young men that we needed to hide in a better place; where we were was too exposed. Mistakenly, we went up to the roof and laid down on our backs, looking up at helicopters that buzzed like hornets in the sky, while the sound of shots became part of the town’s landscape of sound. A man’s voice yelled violently, “Come down here, you bastards on the roof.”
First, the two young men went down. I watched them being beaten from above. I was panicked and didn’t want to come down from the roof; then a police officer yelled up to me, “Come down here, bitch. Come down here now.”
I came down from the roof slowly, terrorized by the sight of the boys being beaten in the head. Two police officers took a hold of me and pulled me forward while others beat me on the chest, back and legs with their clubs. My cries of pain increase when I heard the voice of someone asking my name for the list of arrested. I responded, “Valentina…Valentina Palma Novoa,” while a police officer ordered me to shut my mouth and another hit me in the chest.
A man’s voice ordered the officers to cover me with shields so people could not see how badly they had beaten me. They paused to one side of the church and ordered me to join the rest of the arrested, then forced me to kneel and put my hands behind my head. They continued to beat us. My cell phone rang and a voice ordered me to turn over my bag. In that moment, I was separated from my video camera, my cell phone and my small purse containing my identification and fifty pesos.
They pulled me up by my hair and said, “Get in the truck, bitch.” I could barely move but they demanded that we move incredibly quickly. They tossed me on top of other wounded and bleeding bodies and ordered me to lay my head in a pool of blood. I didn’t want to put my head in the blood, but the black boot of a police officer forced me to do it. The truck started and began to move. Along the way, I was groped by the hands many police officers. I just closed my eyes and clenched my teeth, hoping that the worst would not happen.
My pants were down when the truck stopped and I was ordered to get off. I got down awkwardly and a female police officer said, “Leave this bitch to me,” then hit my ears with both of her hands. I fell, and two police officers took me through a line of police who kicked us as we moved towards a bus.
Once on the bus, another female police officer asked me my name, while two male officers grabbed my breasts violently and threw me on top of the body of an old man whose face was nothing more than a crust of blood. The old man cried out in pain when he felt the weight of my body on top of him. I tried to move but a kick to the back stopped me. My own shout made the old man scream out again, asking for God’s mercy.
A woman’s voice ordered me to move to the back stairway of the bus. I did as she said and, from there, I could see the bloodied faces of the rest of the prisoners and the blood spreading across the floor. Although I was not bleeding, my hands and clothes were spattered with the blood of other prisoners.
I stayed still, listening to the groans from the bodies by my side, and heard them continue to bring more prisoners onto the bus, asking their names amidst beatings and shouts of pain. I do not know how much time passed before the bus closed its doors and began to move. The trip lasted about two or three hours. The torture began again and whatever small movement we made garnered more blows. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but the moans of the old man next to me kept me awake. The old man was saying, “My leg, my leg…¡God, have mercy, please have mercy!”
I wept bitterly. I thought the old man next to me would die. I moved my hand and tried to touch him to calm him a little. A club came down towards my hand, but I begged for compassion with a gesture to the police officer, who then backed off from beating me. Wanting to show the old man a little love, I stroked his leg and he was quiet for a few moments.
I asked him his name and he responded. “If I die, do not cry; please have a party instead.” I cried silently, feeling alone in the company of so many other beaten bodies, thinking the worst – that they would take us to who knows what place and kill us; that we would be disappeared.
For a moment, I fell asleep. But the smell of blood and death awoke me. Upon opening my eyes, I saw the wall of a jail. The bus stopped and a voice ordered us to get off through the back door.
They ordered me to stand up and, as the door opened, my uncovered, crying face looked up to find a line of police officers. I felt another surge of fear.
From below, a voice ordered the door of the bus closed and ordered the prisoners to come off with their faces covered. A police officer covered my head with my jacket and the doors reopened. From outside the bus, a police officer grabbed my pants with one hand and kept my head down with the other. The line of police began to kick my body and the bodies of all of the other prisoners who formed a line behind me.
The door of the prison opened and they moved us through narrow hallways while beating and kicking us. Before arriving at the registration desk, I made the mistake of raising my head and looking into the eyes of a police officer, who responded to my gaze with a hard punch to the stomach that knocked the air out of me for a few moments.
At the registration desk, they asked me for my name, age and nationality, after which they put me into a small room where a fat woman ordered me to take off all of my clothes. She asked me to be quick when she saw my awkward, slow movements, which were the result of the beatings I had received. “Ma’am, I am beaten badly, please be patient,” I said. She searched me. I got dressed again and put my jacket back over my head. I left the room and they ordered us to form a line of women, to move single file and with our heads down into the patio of the jail, which I would later find out was the jail called “Almoloyita” in the city of Toluca.
It must have been about 2pm on Thursday, May 4 by the time we were inside the penitentiary. They brought us to a cafeteria and separated the men and women. In a corner, amidst sobs, we women began to tell each other the abuses to which we had been subjected.
One young woman showed me her ripped underwear and the open, bloody wound on her head. Another told of how they had taken her between two trucks, beaten her, abused her, and threatened her by saying, “We’re going to kill you, bitch.”
Another young woman told me that she might be pregnant. All while sobbing and squeezing each others’ hands in solidarity. The state of shock among the women was evident. In front of us, the men spoke amongst themselves while we observed their bloodied and deformed faces, the product of their brutal beatings. As we looked at the men, a woman approached us and began to list a few names, asking those named to separate themselves from the group.
There were four of us: Cristina, María, Samantha, Valentina. A fifth person then joined us: Mario.
We were the five foreigners who had been arrested. At that moment, a man came who I believe was the director of the jail and he told us that we were safe now, that nobody would beat us anymore, that what had happened before entering the jail did not have to do with him, as if we hadn’t also been beaten while inside the jail. We asked him to make a phone call, but our request was denied.
At this time, the most visibly wounded among the prisoners were taken to the jail’s medical center. They were not merely just one or two prisoners; of the hundreds of people detained, there must have been about 40 with very serious injuries.
One of the first to be taken out was the dying old man who had been next to me in the truck. I never saw him again.
Then it was our turn to be examined by the medical staff. I had bruises on my chest, back, shoulders, fingers, thighs and legs. The doctor recommended that my ribs be x-rayed because I was having difficulty breathing, which has never happened to me before.
The nurse who was taking notes and the doctor who examined me did so with total indifference towards both my self and my wounds. I left the medical office to wait for Cristina, María, Samantha and Mario to be examined. The pseudo medical examination ended and they took us to a room to record our statements.
Strangely, a lawyer appeared from who knows where and recommended that we not give statements, advice that contradicted the people sitting behind the typewriter in front of us.
“It’s OK if you do not want to make a statement, you have the right not to. But it would be good for you to document what happened to you,” a woman lawyer said to me. While we were making our declarations, many men in ties arrived and, while making jokes and being friendly, asked us who we were, how and why we had gone to Atenco, and if we knew how dangerous those people were.
It began to rain, and they took us back to the cafeteria with the rest of the prisoners. They made us sit down and forbade us to make any contact with the Mexican prisoners. If we wanted to go to the bathroom, we had to ask permission. Human rights officials came and took declarations and pictures of our injuries. They took our declarations dispassionately, mechanically.
We were fingerprinted. They took pictures of us from the front and both profiles. They told us that this was not to start a file, that these were necessary registration procedures, that it was very likely that we would be able to leave in the early morning and for that reason it was necessary to register us. Dinner was a pot of cold coffee and a box of rolls.
It must have been midnight when I lay down on a hard wooden bench to try to sleep a little. It was impossible…it was cold and I had no blanket. On the men’s side, a man with dreadlocks noticed my frustration with not being able to sleep and we began to talk, from across the room, using gestures and hand signals. We were in the middle of this when a guard arrived and called out the names of the five foreigners. We got up, said brief goodbyes to the other prisoners, and left.
They took us to a registration office. They gave us our few belongings and took us to a pick up truck, telling us they would bring us to an immigration office in Toluca. Outside of the jail, I heard familiar voices shouting my name. I went to the fence and saw many of my friends asking me how I was. I told them I was more or less all right, and that they were taking us to immigration in Toluca.
They told me they would follow, that they would not leave me alone. My aunt Mónica passed me an envelope that contained my immigration papers and María Novaro, my teacher and mother in Mexico, gave me a jacket for the cold. I got on the bus, the doors closed, and we sped off in the dark. We stopped at an office in Toluca to pick up a lawyer and then they took us to the special cases immigration office in Mexico City.
It must have been about 3am when we arrived at the immigration office. There, once again, a disinterested doctor recorded our injuries. We slept a little because we had arrived before the office opened, so there were not many officials around. At 7am, an assistant brought us cereal and milk.
Then they took my declaration, in an interview during which they not only asked my personal information but also asked me questions like, “Are you familiar with the EZLN? Have you been to University City [the National University (UNAM) campus]? Did you participate in the World Water Forum? Did you meet other foreign prisoners?” and so on.
I signed the declaration that they attached to my other immigration papers, which included a letter from the school where I was studying, a letter from my teacher María Novaro, my passport, my Chilean ID card, and my international student ID. As they were doing this, I received a call from the Chilean Consulate in Mexico, asking me for my name, ID number, and if I had any relatives in Mexico. The ambassador informed me that what he could do would be to make sure that the procedures followed all relevant legal guidelines.
I went back to giving my declaration, and the questions about the EZLN, Subcomandante Marcos and Atenco were repeated. At the same time, friends and family had gathered outside of the immigration office, but I was not allowed to communicate with them. I tried to do so by using hand signals and signs, but they would not even let us do that.
They took me to a room with three men who told me they were there to help me. They took photographs of me from the front and both profile views and recorded every moment of our conversation. They asked my name and if I had any aliases, if I was familiar with the EZLN, if I had visited the Lacandon Jungle; they asked for names of people who could testify to my background, and they asked what kind of documentaries I liked to make.
They told me that “my friend América del Valle” was worried about me, because she had lost track of me while we were trying to run away. Only when I arrived in Chile recently did I find out that this woman was one of the leaders who the police were looking for in Atenco.
When the interrogation was over, my fingerprints were taken with a very sophisticated machine that fed them into a computer. They took me out of the room and to another room where three visitors from the Commission on Human Rights were waiting. When the two Spanish women and I told them what we had experienced, they recommended urgently that we request a lawyer to seek protection in the face of possible deportation. The atmosphere had become tense, so I asked one of the human rights lawyers for a pen and paper to write to a note to “the lawyer,” which I showed to my friends through the window. At that moment, a lawyer from the immigration office entered and said, “Do you need a lawyer? I am a lawyer; what is your problem?” I told her that I wanted to file an order of protection and she told me that would be ill-advised because it would mean that I would have to stay in the immigration station for a month and that we would most likely be released soon anyway. The visitors from the Human Rights Commission argued with her and told her to let me speak to one of the people waiting outside.
The lawyer conceded and I was allowed to speak for five minutes with Berenice. I told her that I need to seek an order of protection, and she told me that it was already in place. I said goodbye abruptly as they took me to have my second medical exam since arriving at the immigration office.
When I came out of the medical office, I saw one of the women from Human Rights and I asked her to tell my friends outside that I was about to be taken to another location. I asked a lawyer there to tell me where I was going to be taken and he told me that I was being taken to the main immigration office. They did not let me keep talking to him; I was taken to a private car where Mario, another Chilean, was already waiting.
I got into the car, followed by three police officers. The doors were closed and one of the police officers asked the driver to close all of the windows. We drove down the highway at more than 100km per hour, in the midst of snarled traffic.
I asked myself where we could be going and had no answer. Once on our way, I realized that we were headed to the airport and that there were two cars ahead of us: one with Samantha, from Germany, and another with María and Cristina, from Spain.
Facing an imminent unjust expulsion from the country at any moment, there was nothing I could do but close my eyes, clench my teeth and think: just another violation.
We arrived at the airport around 6pm. They took us out of the cars and put us into custody in a completely white room, where they detained us for an hour or more. Then they took us, under custody, to the waiting rooms inside the airport. The first plane to leave was Samantha’s. We kept waiting and I did nothing but cry. I felt ill. I stood up and tried to walk down the hallway. A guard approached me and told me I should be seated. “I feel ill,” I told her, “I will not escape, please let me walk.”
I kept crying and a police officer approached, saying, “Don’t be that way. That attitude is not helpful. If it consoles you, let me tell you that you are not being deported, that you are just being expelled from the country, but you can come back whenever you like.” Mistakenly, I let her words calm me.
They took us to a bar so that we could smoke a few cigarettes, because we were all very emotional. The Lan Chile flight, leaving at approximately 11pm, was announced. They called for Mario and me to board. We said goodbye to María and Cristina with big hugs. We got in line and boarded the plane.
On the plane, one of the passengers approached me and handed me letters that my friends had sent as they tried to do everything possible to stop this unjust expulsion. Tears fell down my cheeks; I cried because I knew I was not alone. The guard, who was seated next to me, asked me what had happened. I told her that I had been living in Mexico for 11 years, that my life is in this country, that they never told me what was happening, that the entire procedure had been illegal, and that I had been beaten and abused by the police.
She told me that she had only been told 30 minutes before boarding that she was going to be flying to Chile. She said that they had not told her anything, but that she had noticed irregularities in the proceedings, because usually before someone is deported they spend a month at the immigration station, and that it must have been an order that came from above.
Finally coming to terms with my expulsion, I began to chat with her and I told her which places in Santiago to visit during her short stay. The exhaustion and feeling of powerlessness were too much. I slept. When I woke up, the mountains of the Andes had appeared in the plane window. We landed. We were taken to the office of the international police, where they took our declarations as to why we had been deported and/or expelled from the country.
Outside, my family was waiting. Sobs, kisses, hugs. We went to the hospital to document my injuries and, quickly, we put together a press conference for radio and television, during which we denounced the illegality of our expulsion and the police violence to which we were subjected.
2. After everything that I have told you, I would like to make clear my indignation, anger and complete opposition to:
The use of physical, psychological and sexual violence used as a form of torture and coercion against women.
The police brutality to which all prisoners were subjected, regardless of nationality.
My deportation, for two reasons: all of my papers were in order and valid, and the order of protection that was presented for me was rejected with the claim that I was not in the country when, in fact, I was still in Mexico.
3. Given this, we are working with our lawyers to carry out actions aimed at:
Reinstituting our right to continue our studies in Mexico, through measures taken with both the Chilean and Mexican governments.
Taking measures on the diplomatic level against the Mexican Embassy in Chile.
Filing a complaint against the police for the crime of assault.
Filing a case against the government of Mexico for illegal deportation.
No to rape, no to the use of women and men as objects! No to brutality and torture! No to the justification of violence!
Valentina Palma Novoa
As I was checking Indianz.com for news today I found the following:
The Hamilton Spectator is running a story about several people who are part of the Native protest in Caledonia, Ontario.
"Voices of the Barricade" takes a look at four prominent members of the struggle. They are Clyde Powless, who was asked to guard the barricade; Michael Laughing, who came to Caledonia on the direction of his clan mother; Hazel Hill, who has been part of Native rights struggles for decades; and Janie Jamieson, whose life has been characterized by hardship.
The following is the article mentioned from the Hamilton Spectator.
Voices of the Barricade
By Marissa Nelson
Clyde Powless sits down, takes off his black lacrosse ball cap and rubs the back of his hand across the grey patch at the front his otherwise thick black hair.
The hand is calloused and strong.
He drops into a lawn chair at the main barricade as if he's thankful to be taking a load off the brown workboots that have been his uniform for weeks.
As the smell of the sacred fire wafts past, Powless talks about where he thought he'd be this spring -- in New Jersey working. He was only supposed to be home at Six Nations a few days, between an ironworking job in the Northwest Territories and one south of the border. But the hereditary chiefs asked him to control things at the barricades.
Why him? Why not him? He's calm, he's grounded. Salt of the earth. But he's determined. Forceful. And people listen. He's in charge of keeping things orderly.
His demeanour is understated. But his role behind the barricades is crucial -- he controls things, like a sergeant, without any stereotypical bellowing.
There's no doubt being without the money from New Jersey takes a toll on his family. But you can't think of the short-term, he says.
"I'm looking at the long run. Maybe my grandchildren won't have to do this," he says, in his matter-of-fact style.
It's not so bad, he says. His wife is still working. They're making do.
"When you're an ironworker, you are used to the ups and downs," he says. "We're all giving up a lot."
Like hundreds of other First Nations people in this province, Powless is an ironworker. It was the thing to do when he was young, and 70 per cent of the men took up the trade.
Good pay. A respectable job. Not bad for a father of three.
He says you aren't an ironworker if you haven't almost fallen. "You get good at it. I've been at it a long time."
His eldest boy, now 19, is getting ready to come to work.
Powless has seen most of North America. He helped build the new Detroit airport and the football stadium in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Although he's one of the spokespeople -- one of the public faces of the native occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates -- he's not a man of many words.
He jokes about technology. He's given in and now carries a cellphone.
"I don't know about these things," he says, holding the cellphone up. "I've never seen it climb a column."
But when he's pushed, an anger as steely as his nerve emerges.
Minutes after the OPP retreated from the building site last month, Powless had men cart barricades across the highway. As a dump truck was moved into place, he bellowed at the pack of media that it was for safety.
When someone asked the Mohawk chief Allen MacNaughton how long the road would be closed, Powless barked that the people would decide.
The anger of that day has abated, his customary calmness returned. Now Powless spends a lot of time talking with the OPP.
"We have young fellas, so they let us know when they're moving their men. They've got young fellas, so we let them know when we're moving our men."
While there's an air of politeness, it's clear he's irritated. He'd rather be building the guts of a building than sitting on a highway, making sure all the gates are staffed.
There's a hint of cunning when he admits protesters did "borrow" an archeological report from Henco Industries.
Being at the front line is also a way for Powless, who lost his father when he was young, to show -- not teach -- his kids the right path.
"It's in them. If I was to die tomorrow, I know they are on their way," he says.
His boys understand it. They understand the barricades and the history behind it.
Land claims are just Canada's way of not dealing with an issue, he says.
"I'm waiting for Canada to put a land claim in on my land," he says, grinning.
Then he asks when "your government" plans to go for summer break. "They should call it off until they deal with this," he says.
Powless is clearly not planning to go anywhere this summer. It doesn't matter how many rallies there are, how many obscenities are hurled. They've got a goal, he says. That's why the people at the barricades don't respond to the racial slurs they hear.
"It's not for me," he says, wafting his hand as if he's swatting away a fly. "If I wanted to do that, I'll turn into a kid and go back to the playground. We've got a main goal here and the other stuff is just like a dust storm
He has the charm and charisma of a politician.
His thick black hair hangs to the middle of his back. He's handsome and knows it.
Michael Laughing always finds the camera.
His is the image that in just a few moments on April 20 -- the day of the botched OPP raid -- encapsulated the struggle.
As if on cue, the 40-year-old jumped onto a dump truck blocking Argyle Street, just minutes after the OPP were pushed back off Douglas Creek Estates. He stood atop the truck, holding a Two Wampum flag, arms out-stretched as if ready to be martyred, with a cloud of black smoke billowing behind him.
Just a week earlier, he single-handedly ratcheted up tension when he proclaimed on TV and in newspapers that he was ready to die behind the barricades.
So who is Michael Laughing? Is the persona of public rabble- rouser for real? The answer isn't clear. Is he a warrior or an artist? A rebel willing to die for a building site in Caledonia or a father who misses his kids? A leader or a broken man?
Born in Lansing, Michigan, Laughing is in fact from Akwasasne -- a reserve that straddles the U.S.-Canada and Ontario-Quebec borders. The recovering alcoholic has three sisters and six brothers and followed in his father's footsteps to become an ironworker.
He had heard about land claims all his life. This one sounded different. It was a "repossession," not a land claim and Laughing found it too alluring to ignore.
Laughing says he came to Caledonia because his clan mothers told him to. He talks about birth rights, about a cultural genocide. There are rumours he's a warrior -- rumours he isn't quick to correct. He eventually says he isn't and was never at the Oka standoff, but only after persistent questions.
He unsuccessfully fought a land claim in 2004 for the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe, a deal worth $100 million. Laughing fought the deal, which got the nod from the tribe, because he feared it would simply mean more land falling under the state's control.
Laughing believes if they can make this one stick, it will have widespread influence.
That it will help all First Nations on Turtle Island or North America.
You know he's serious, although it's hard to ignore the sunglasses -- reflective lenses made to look like a reptile's eyes.
Laughing says he came to Caledonia to fight for his land, even though it's not his neighbourhood.
"When I got here, I would wake up with six inches of snow on my face," he says, standing in the bright May sunshine.
"I didn't come for nothing else, just to help with the repossession. I'm the repo man of the Confederacy."
He slips from rhetoric to personal at the flip of a switch. Ask him if he's a warrior and he says everyone is a warrior.
"As long as the grasses grow and rivers flow, we have our birthrights," Laughing says, as he paces at the front barricade facing Caledonia.
Minutes later, he talks about missing home and the sons he hasn't seen in nearly two months.
"I'd like to touch my boys," he says.
Laughing spent nine days at Ground Zero sifting through the debris in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, as many other ironworkers did. Those nine days changed his life.
When he talks about Ground Zero, Laughing's tall, angular frame slumps. His broad shoulders fall inward, softening the otherwise warrior-like stature he likes to portray.
"My life was wiped out by that trade centre," he says, still wearing the snake glasses. "I haven't been able to pick up my tools since. I see things I shouldn't be seeing," he says, walking away.
Laughing worked the graveyard shift -- literally. He spent two nights on a "rescue" mission, the next seven nights on "recovery."
People were told the bodies had been incinerated. They weren't.
"It was hell," Laughing says.
"I have a strong heart to help people and look at what those people are doing to my people now."
That quickly, he's back to rhetoric.
He's turned his ironworker's hands to artwork, carving antlers and bone. His last piece sold for nearly $6,000.
Regardless of whether he's an artist or a warrior, a traditionalist or a provocateur, the young men behind the barricade respect him and listen to him.
The day the OPP raided the camp, Laughing shepherded teens who were zipping around residential streets on all-terrain vehicles back onto the building site.
Laughing says he's learned a lot, too.
"I've learned I can lead people."
Hazel Hill was sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck, surrounded by reporters.
Cameras were clicking, videotape rolling.
She held up a pair of spent Taser electrodes for all to see -- proof the OPP had used some force during a botched raid on the Caledonia building site.
She talked about being tackled by OPP officers. She told reporters about the raid. She told them about land rights. She told them about tradition. She told them about the history she's been living for most of her 44 years.
In that brief moment on the tailgate, Hill became one of the central, public figures of this fight -- not by design, but by chance.
To outsiders, Caledonia may seem as if it came out of the blue. It's decades in the making to Hill.
She lit a sacred fire outside her house during the Oka crisis because she couldn't get past the army to lend a hand.
Her husband was at Ipperwash.
She worked behind the scenes to fight a pipeline upstream from the Six Nations reserve she still calls home.
Now she's front and centre, helping organize the barricades and giving regular updates to reporters and websites.
She evolved into the role, one she's ready for now, after more than 20 years of political involvement behind the scenes.
The thread of history runs through Hill. She can recount details from hundreds of years ago as if she is reading from a book -- except it's all neatly lined up in her mind.
"It's too important to let it go," she says of the current struggle. "This is our opportunity to make a change."
With hints of grey peppering her hair, Hill speaks in generalities that can sound like evasions or wisdom. But under her outer serenity is a deep sense of indignation. The latest fight is just another step on a path that's well worn in her life.
To Hill, it isn't just Caledonia -- it's all the years of struggle.
"For me it's a spiritual thing. It comes from within me," she says.
It's not that she wants to be fighting, for she has many other duties to which she'd rather be tending.
Her 82-year-old mother broke her leg, followed by a surgery. When the blockade first went up, Hill had spent a lot of time tending to her mother. Now, her relatives have had to make sacrifices to fill in for Hill.
Her gift-basket and flower arrangement business has been kept afloat by a niece.
Hill has four children of her own and three step-children and 12 grandchildren.
But she's not spending much time at home now.
"This isn't the first time I've been involved in something like this," she says. "My kids know my heart."
What keeps everyone going is the belief that what they are doing is right, she said.
She is fighting not just this claim but what she sees as the pattern of history.
"We could hand out fliers every day and we'd never get any response," she said. "Canada has a history of only responding when action is taken -- peaceful action ... Canada always resorts with guns."
"It's not always something we choose."
First Nations people file a land claim, wait decades, get nowhere.
Then they start to take action and get noticed.
This fight has been years in the making. Hazel Hill is determined to make it count.
"It's a fire within. You carry that fire inside you," she says. "I don't need a weapon -- our sword is the truth."
"You don't forget Oka or Ipperwash, for it's ingrained in your spirit," she says.
"Everything is the same. Things happening here are the same as at Oka -- you can almost tell the story before it happened," she says.
"I don't know if it will end the same way."
Janie Jamieson knows suffering. She's looked it in the nose since she was a toddler.
When she talks about the small parcel of land in Caledonia, her battle is clearly about so much more.
She says the sale of the land was illegal, the appropriation of First Nations land across the country, criminal.
It's not just this piece of land, she says, and Canada knows it.
That's why Canada is so reluctant to talk.
One thing is clear -- Jamieson comes with a legacy of grievances against a system she believes sowed the seeds of a life of suffering.
Perhaps it explains her indignation at Henco Industries' complaint that the native occupiers haven't handed over company files stored in an office at the building site.
"This is the biggest white-collar crime in Canada's history and who is held to account? Office files? Get with the program," she sputters.
She talks about the hundreds of native women who have disappeared or been killed.
There are so many issues -- serious issues -- facing her community that files don't seem important.
What does Henco know of hardship? Do the developers know about her mother? About her grandmother? About her cousin? About her aunt?
"I've been worse off than this. This is nothing," Jamieson says, pacing in front of the main barricade on Argyle Street, where she's spent most days. Her usual steady demeanour has an edge.
Her cousin was found dead behind a casino.
Her mother committed suicide when Jamieson was three years old.
She recently lost her grandmother -- the only living connection she had to her dead mother.
Just last month, her 17-year-old stepson, who she helped raise, was killed in a tragic car crash.
Jamieson's aunt died after being brutally raped.
She had gone home with a man and died in a makeshift bed after she was torn apart by the rape.
She bled to death and her killer didn't call for help for 12 hours.
"I'm not saying, 'Poor me.' I am saying we are real people with real issues trying to maintain our lives.
"He," she says, referring to a news release from Henco Industries, "is after the almighty dollar."
It's the type of personal story which tempers the Caledonia fight.
It's about this piece of land.
But to Jamieson, it's also about the broader issues -- of oppression and of self-determination that she believes will end the tragedies for her community.
Jamieson believes the people she loved might have found a better final chapter if her nation had been running itself without Canada's interference.
"Our whole system, the Great Law, was created for us," she says.
It's the system she wants to live in.
The land in Caledonia is linked to prosperity -- look how much it's already brought Caledonia, she says.
"Once (Canada) loses that title, and it's returned to us, then who will prosper?"
She says reports about bricks being thrown off a bridge are just red herrings.
"It's really easy to be misguided. When you've seen as much as I have and been through as much, you learn to see it for what it is," says the 34-year-old mother of two.
Police talk about public safety, but then don't investigate death threats against her, she charges.
"It's just a farce," she says.
She says police helicopters fly over her house but it will take more than that to scare her off."They don't know what I've endured. They'll have to come up with more than that."
Several persons were shot by Israeli Border Police while taking part in a weekly protest against the Wall. It nothing unusual and that is point isn't it.
The following is from Haaretz. The second is a statement from the International Solidarity Movement itself.
Border Police fire on anti-fence protesters in Bil'in, wounding 3
Three demonstrators were wounded on Friday afternoon in clashes with security officers during a protest against the separation fence in the West Bank village of Bil'in.
Border Police officers fired rubber bullets on the demonstrators, wounding a French photographer and two other members of the International Solidarity Movement.
The three international activists were evacuated, the photographer to a nearby Ramallah hospital and the other two to the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
According to reports by other demonstrators, one of the activists was hit in the head from a dangerously close range of about 15 meters.
Israeli, international and Palestinian activists protest every Friday against the route of the separation fence being constructed next to the village. Some 150 demonstrators came out for Friday's protest.
Israeli Soldiers Shoot Two International Peace Activists In The Head at Bil’in
At today’s Bil’in demonstration, Israeli soldiers shot one Australian and one Danish demonstrator in the head with rubber-coated steel bullets at close range. Phil Reess from Australia was shot as he was running away – he had been filming the demonstration. BJ Lund from Denmark was also shot as he was standing near army jeeps. American eyewitness Zadie Susser saw Phil sitting in shock immediately after he was hit: “I saw blood gushing out of his head, and helped bandage it. As we were getting him into the ambulance an Israeli soldier grabbed his long hair and they all tried to stop him from leaving in the ambulance even though they knew he was injured”.
Both Phil and BJ are currently in Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel-Aviv. The bullet caused a hemorrhage to Phil’s brain, though he is now conscious. BJ required stitches to the head. Eight Palestinians were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets: Abed Al Karim (60) was hit in his private parts, Adeba Yasin (65) was hit by a rubber coated bullet under her eye, Abed Albash Abu Rahma (15) was hit on his thigh and Waled Mahmoud Abu Rahma (20) was hit on his abdomen. Ashraf Muhamad Jamal (24) was tear gassed and Abdullah Abu-Rahme (35 and the Co-ordinatior of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall), Muhammad Al Katib (32, also from the Popular Committee) and Akram Al Katib (34) were beaten.
The video footage that Phil was filming when he was shot is available from the ISM Media office on request. In it you can see how close they were to the soldiers when they opened fire - the sound of the shots fired is clearly audible.
The demonstration of about 300 people had marched, singing, chanting and waving flags to the gate in the apartheid barrier. This week, the gate had been locked open, so the Israeli soldiers relied on their jeeps and barbed wire to stop the people of Bil’in from walking into their land. After a while, some of the demonstrators started to open the barbed wire. The Israeli soldiers started hitting people with clubs. A few rocks were thrown from a small group of youth who were away from the main demonstration in front of the jeeps. The soldiers then started firing on the peaceful demonstrators at near point-blank range as they were running away – they were a maximum distance of 10 meters away when shot. According to Israeli Human Rights group B’Tselem, Israeli Military Regulations stipulate that “the minimum range for firing rubber-coated steel bullets is forty meters. The Regulations emphasize that the bullets must be fired only at the individual’s legs, and are not to be fired at children” . Israeli soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian children during the Bil’in demonstration every week.
Although the presence of international and Israeli witnesses at Palestinian demonstrations largely means that the Israeli military uses less violence than on demonstrations in which Palestinians are alone and thus shot at with live ammunition, they have also shot internationals. British attorney general, Lord Goldsmith confirmed on the 6th of May he was considering whether to seek the extradition and prosecution of an Israeli soldier who shot dead British cameraman James Miller in Gaza, after a jury in a British inquest unanimously agreed that “Mr Miller was indeed murdered” . Israeli demonstrator Matan Cohen was recently shot in the eye during a demonstration in Beit Sira. He now has only partial sight in that eye. Eleven Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers during non-violent demonstrations against the apartheid wall.
For more information call:
ISM Media office: 02 297 1824
Zadie Susser: 054 590 2319
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Lawyers for five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor accused of infecting Libyan children with HIV unsucesfully sought their release on bail at a hearing which set a new trial date on Thursday. The nurses had been sentenced to death along with a Palestinian doctor until last year, when Libya's supreme court overturned the verdicts and sent the case back to a lower court.
The following is an Aljazeera report. The second report is from the Sofia News Agency.
Libya denies bail to medical workers
The death sentences were overturned in 2005
The Libyan court retrying five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor on charges of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with HIV, has rejected the defence teams' request to release the medical workers on bail.
The decision came in the first session on Thursday of the new trial that Libya's Supreme Court ordered late last year after it overturned death sentences handed down against the six in 2004.
Judge Mahmoud Huwaissa, the presiding judge on a three-member tribunal, rejected the request for bail after the prosecutor argued that the defendants might try to flee from the country.
The prosecutor added that one had already attempted to escape from prison, but he did not elaborate.
Thursday's brief session at a Tripoli criminal court, attended by the six defendants, dealt with procedural matters.
Huwaissa adjourned the trial to June 13.
Treatment of accused
Ashraf al-Hazouz, the Palestinian doctor, told The Associated Press in the courtroom that "we are also victims like those children, but we hope that this tragedy will end soon".
Al-Hazouz also said he had not been allowed to speak to his family for the past five months, and said he wanted to receive the same treatment as the Bulgarian nurses, implying they enjoyed privileges not given to him.
Victims' families demand financial compensation
The six have been in Libyan custody since 1999.
The 426 children were said to have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes Aids, at a hospital in the Libyan city of Benghazi, as part of an alleged experiment to find a cure for the disease.
Europe, the US and human-rights groups have accused Libyan authorities of blaming the defendants for poor hygiene that they say caused the infections.
The medical workers first stood trial in 2004.
About 50 of the children have died, and the case has fuelled outrage among the families of the victims.
Tripoli has suggested that the nurses could go free if money were provided to cover financial compensation for the families of the victims and medical treatment for the children.
The victims' families have demanded 4.4 billion euro ($5.43 billion) from a group of international donors trying to settle the dispute, although Bulgaria has refused to pay any compensation, saying it would be a recognition of guilt.
But the US, EU, Libya and Bulgaria have agreed to back the formation of an aid fund, and are seeking ways to help the victims and their families.
The convictions have become a major sticking point to Libya's efforts to emerge from decades of diplomatic isolation.
Bulgarian Medics Retrial Adjourned for June 13
The Tripoli Criminal Court postponed the re-trial against the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor for June 13.
The Libyan lawyer on the defence Osman Bizanti immediately asked for the nurses' release on bail, but the court decided to leave them in jail after prosecutors argued that they might try and flee the country.
The decision came in the first session of the new trial that Libya's Supreme Court ordered late last year after overturning death sentences handed down against the six in 2004.
Thursday's brief court session, attended by the six defendants, dealt with procedural matters.
The defendants - Kristiana Vulcheva, Nassya Nenova, Valentina Siropoulo, Valya Chervenyashka and Snezhana Dimitrova and Palestinian doctor Ashraf Al-Hadjudj - are charged with causing a HIV epidemic in Benghazi in the late 1990s.
The nurses, detained since 1999, had been sentenced to death by firing squad along with the Palestinian. It was on 25 December 2005 when Libya's Supreme Court overturned the verdicts and sent the case back to a lower court.
The case has become a hostage to Libya's efforts to put an end to three decades of diplomatic isolation. Bulgaria has pooled efforts with Western allies, the European Union and the United States seeking to prove the medics were innocent.
They point to evidence that the medics were tortured to confess as well as a testimony by AIDS experts that they were not working at the hospital when the epidemic broke.
The trial has been developing under strong pressure on the side of enraged families of the 426 infected children.
Last month Mahmoud Mekki and Hesham Bastawisi, deputies of the chief justice of the Cassation Court, were charged with violating judicial rules by talking to the media about political issues and with harming the image of the judiciary by accusing fellow judges of taking part in rigging last year's parliamentary elections. The two were also accused of leaking to the press a black list including the initials of names of judges suspected of rigging.
Last week, the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession said that it is "concerned with the conditions of justice and the independence of the Judiciary" and along with, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), it sent a letter to President Mubarak, the Justice Minister Mahmoud Abul-Leil.
The two letters expressed the ICJ's "concern about the conditions of independence of the Judiciary in Egypt, as well as the Commission's concerns about the investigation with judges who are deputies to the head of Egypt's Court of Cassation."
Meanwhile, in what may very well be a first, sitting Egyptians judges have penned an opinion piece in a major foreign newspaper. Mahmoud Mekky and Hisham al-Bastawisy wrote this article in the British Guardian outlining their views, thus considerably widening the audience for this remarkable drama. Particularly notable are the two judges’ firm avowals of self-reliance in their battle for autonomy. As is to be expected, powerful third parties are now intensely interested in what used to be the marginal and rarefied affair of Egyptian judicial independence, viz. American and European governments. The article goes on, “In Egypt we don’t have any confidence in US policy because it is a contradictory policy that pays lip service to democracy while supporting dictatorships. We have confidence in the Egyptian people. We welcome support from any quarter, but we won’t rely on it. We will depend on ourselves in our campaign for reform and change.”
According to the blog Baheyya organised elements of the Egyptian public continue to declare their solidarity with judges. There are now some 100 activists of all political persuasions being detained for their unceasing support of the judges, among them three women activists (Nada al-Qassas, Asma’ Ali, Rasha ‘Azab), feisty bloggers-demonstrators Alaa Abdel Fattah, Malek Mustafa, and Muhammad al-Sharqawi, veteran demonstrator Kamal Khalil, journalists Ibrahim al-Sahari and Saher Gad, and some 50 members of the Muslim Brothers.
A medley of “Egyptian National Forces” have signed a short statement calling for the release of all detainees and reaffirming solidarity with judges. The signatories are Kifaya, the Nasserist Party, the Communist Party, Freedom Now, the Muslim Brothers, the 9 March movement for university’s independence, Writers and Artists for Change, The Street is Ours, Journalists for Change, the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Tagammu’ Party, the Socialist People’s Party, the Labour Party, the Ghad Party, the Karama Party, Youth for Change, the Revolutionary Socialists Organisation, the Pharmacists’ and Physicians Syndicates.
The following short report is from Albawaba. The next and longer article is from AFP via Middle East Times.
Police clash with demonstrators in Cairo
Violent clashes have reported between Egyptian riot police and demonstrators supporting two pro-reform judges who accused the judiciary of helping to rig last year's parliamentary elections.
Several hundred protestors from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Kefaya movement as well as leftist bodies gathered in downtown Cairo and were surrounded by thousands of policemen. "Dozens of members of the Muslim Brothers were arrested," the opposition Islamist movement's spokesman Issam al-Aryan told AFP.
Large sections of central Cairo were sealed off to traffic as the political opposition and reformists clashed with state security forces.
An AFP reporter saw one protestor lying on the ground being kicked in the stomach by policemen and several others with bloodied faces being whisked away in police vans.
Egypt police and pro-reform protestors clash
Violent clashes broke out on Thursday between Egyptian riot police and demonstrators supporting two pro-reform judges who accused the judiciary of helping to rig last year's parliamentary elections.
Several hundred protestors from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Kifaya movement as well as leftist organizations gathered in downtown Cairo and were surrounded by thousands of policemen.
Riot police wearing helmets were seen beating up protestors with truncheons.
"Dozens of members of the Muslim Brothers were arrested," said spokesman Issam Al Aryan, whose Islamist opposition movement was for the first time taking part in a demonstration of support for the judges.
Large sections of central Cairo were sealed off to traffic as the political opposition and reformists faced off with state security forces.
"Judges, protect us from dictatorship," chanted the protestors, who split into at least three separate demonstrations in a bid to avoid being encircled by the police.
An AFP reporter saw one protestor lying on the ground being kicked in the stomach by policemen and several others with bloodied faces being whisked away in police vans.
Several journalists were also manhandled by security, including a cameraman for the Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera who was badly beaten and had his equipment confiscated, witnesses said.
Mohammed Abdel Quddus, a prominent member of the journalists syndicate's board, was arrested early on Thursday at a cafe near the courthouse.
The two rebel judges, Mahmoud Mekki and Hisham Al Bastawissi, refused to enter the courtroom, where their case was supposed to be reviewed, claiming that their defense team was not allowed to come with them.
"I will no longer attend the hearings of the disciplinary board if the conditions for a fair trial are not met," Bastawissi said.
The hearing went ahead without the pair, who demanded that their lawyers be allowed in, that all security forces vacate the building and that all protestors detained for supporting them be released.
The trial was adjourned until May 18.
"What is happening today is an unprecedented scandal. The judges all refused to enter the courthouse, which is besieged by thousands of police forces who are interfering with the country's judiciary," Bastawissi added.
The two judges were summoned to a disciplinary hearing last month on charges of tarnishing the image of the judiciary by naming some of their pro-government colleagues in connection with election fraud.
Their summons triggered street protests in favor of the judges, who are in charge of supervising the electoral process and have become one of the symbols of the drive for reforms in Egypt.
Clashes between police and the protestors also erupted at the previous hearing on April 27 but the protestors were in fewer numbers.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 100 pro-reform activists have been detained over the past two weeks in connection with the movement to support the judges and the campaign to repeal Egypt's state of emergency law, which has been in place since 1981.
"These new arrests indicate that President [Hosni] Mubarak intends to silence all peaceful opposition," Joe Stork, the rights watchdog's deputy regional director, said in a statement.
Only two years ago, street protests in Cairo were almost unimaginable, but Mubarak had loosened his iron grip on the state amid pressure from Washington to allow greater political freedom in Egypt.
Now observers and critics argue that the regime is reverting to its old tactics and is seeking to gag all dissident voices as Washington has turned its attention to other regional issues.
Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party retained a firm grip on power during the November-December legislative elections despite a surge from the Muslim Brothers, who a secured a fifth of parliament.
The judges syndicate is dominated by reformists and has been pushing for full independence from the ministry of justice.
The group took its confrontation with the regime a step further after the April 27 protests when it issued a statement openly calling for change in the higher spheres of government.
In Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Carol Fisher has been charged with a major felony for putting posters on public lamp-posts. Fisher was hanging "World Can't Wait, Bush Step Down" posters on Lee Road telephone poles January 28 when some cops pointed out to her that the city has a law against that. They asked for an ID. She didn't have one with her. Fisher turned and walked toward the poster, in compliance with the officer’s warning. But instead of allowing her to take it down or just issuing a citation, the cops attacked and according to testimony one was “grinding his
knee into [Fisher’s] back and [her] face into the sidewalk.”
The following is from The World Can’t Wait.
Judge Orders World Can't Wait Activist to Jail Psych Unit
Judge Timothy McGinty forcibly incarcerated Carol Fisher in the psych unit of the Cuyahoga County Jail in downtown Cleveland, where she now sits for an indefinite period of time.
In a hastily called hearing yesterday, Judge McGinty made a highly unusual and outrageous decision to force Carol to undergo a state psychological exam as part of her pre-sentencing investigation. From the very start of Carol's case, the judge has openly said that she must have mental problems for resisting an unlawful and brutal encounter with Cleveland Heights police. He went even further in yesterday's hearing, saying that her opposition to the Bush regime makes her "delusional."
The small courtroom on the 21st floor of the Justice Center was ringed with 5 armed court bailiffs. McGinty started off the hearing by making Carol stand up and had one of her attorneys read her t-shirt, which said:
"Wanted for Illegally Crossing Borders: The Bush Regime
"If you are going to insist that crossing borders illegally is a crime which cannot be tolerated, how about George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice (and yes, Colin Powell) and the rest of that gang, with their highly illegal, and violent, 'crossing of the border'-into Iraq, among other places?!"
McGinty then said this was proof of her delusion! He also kept saying Carol "wants" to go to jail, and that she has a "martyr complex." When Carol tried to explain why she wouldn't take this test, the judge's only response was, "I do not negotiate with felons."
Does Carol really want to go to jail? No! But she is not willing to comply with a vindictive court ordered test to "prove" her sanity. And more than that, she is taking a stand for everyone who is angry and fearful of a government that, under the rubric of "national security and the war on terror," willfully and unapologetically tramples on the most basic rights of privacy. Think about this in light of the NSA spying scandal, and now Bush wants to install the head of the notorious NSA to be CIA chief! As Carol said before she went to jail, "I'd be crazy to go along with this shit! That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn--or be forced--to accept."
Just look at this whole case: a woman posts a "Bush Step Down" poster on a telephone pole, being brutalized by the police in the process, and now not only faces 3 years in prison but also a mandatory psych exam. As Terry Gilbert, one of Carol's attorneys said, "This is Gulag stuff--saying that people who are dissidents are crazy." He further added that in his 33 years of practicing law, he has never seen anything like this.
Is this the kind of country you want to live in?
On the phone this morning, Carol Fisher stated that, in addition to sending her to the psych unit, McGinty has also put her on "suicide watch"! They have taken away her eyeglasses. And if she refuses the psych exam, she will be forcibly sent to North Coast Mental Institute for a 20 day evaluation.
Legal challenges are continuing, including seeking a writ of habeas corpus.
When the transcripts are available to the public, they will show how outrageous this hearing was.
*Donate to Carol's legal defense. It costs a lot of money to get transcripts, file appeals, etc. Make checks payable to “Carol Fisher Defense Fund” and mail to “NION/WCW PO Box 609034 Cleveland, OH 44109.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Trinidad's largest Hindu organization wanted the prime minister to bar American televangelist Benny Hinn from visiting the country.
When that didn't happen they called on the cops to arrest the dude.
Hinn plans to visit the diverse Caribbean nation from May 19th through the 21st. The Sanatan Dharma Maha Saba says Hinn will threaten the country's religious harmony.
The organization has taken out newspaper ads claiming Hinn's revivals are illegal because he makes money by faith healing. Faith healing is against the law in Trinidad.
Meanwhile, the wife of the man who died soon after he was said to have been healed by Hinn seven years ago had this bit of advice for sick people who plan to attend Hinn's crusade this month: Visit a doctor instead.
Chance's ailing husband, Marcano Siewkumar, went to Hinn's crusade at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain in 1999. Struggling to walk, he was chosen as one of the people to be healed that night, and was lifted onto the stage
Siewkumar, who suffered with heart disease, kidney failure and hypertension, was told he was healed.
The Siewkumar miracle as it was called was broadcast on a Christian television cable channel by Hinn who said he had cast out more demons in Trinidad than anywhere else he had preached.
Chance said her husband was bitter until his death, which came 33 days after the healing.
Benny Hinn Ministries is based in the suburbs of Dallas. It's estimated to raise more than 100 (m) million dollars a year.
The following rather strange article is from Caribbean Net News.
Hindus want American televangelist arrested on arrival in Trinidad
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad: A major Hindu organisation in Trinidad, the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, wants the Commissioner of Police to arrest American televangelist Benny Hinn, under the Summary Offences Act, as soon as he arrives in Trinidad for a second visit, the Inter Religious Organisation was told on Monday.
Devant Maharaj, who represented the Hindu religion in place of Maha Sabha general secretary Sat Maharaj, said he made the call when he was asked to elaborate on the Maha Sabha's position on Hinn's three-day crusade scheduled to start in Port of Spain on May 19.
The meeting was held at Archbishop House, Port of Spain, and among those present were IRO chairman Cyril Paul and Roman Catholic Archbishop Edward Gilbert.
Devant Maharaj said much of the discussions at the three-hour long meeting centred on Hinn's visit.
He said he told the meeting that the Maha Sabha was of the opinion that the police had been quick to arrest stage artistes under similar circumstances.
Maharaj was referring to Hinn's first visit in 1999 during which the Maha Sabha felt that Hinn had attacked the national community by casting aspersions on Trinidad and Tobago as a land of voodoo and had painted it negatively with a primitive brush.
Sat Maharaj said the Maha Sabha had set aside a budget of $100,000 to counter Hinn's visit. "We are not leaving his attack on Trinidad and Tobago alone," Maharaj said.