Published on Aug 20, 2012 by PressTVGlobalNews
The United Nations has issued a 102-page report, alleging that both sides on the Syrian conflict have carried out numerous “war crimes.” Now the trouble is in danger of spreading into Lebanon. The leader of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, has said that this could all herald the unraveling of Sykes-Picot, a reference to the secret agreement between the British and the French in 1919 that was meant to define their spheres of influence and control in the Middle East during World War I.
Separately, Indians celebrated on Wednesday the 65th anniversary of their country’s independence from Britain. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the country would send a rocket to Mars next year. India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world even if many of its people do not have a safe drinking water. In 2008, India sent a successful probe to the moon and detected evidence of water on the lunar surface for the first time. “A note to Mr. Singh, providing reliable water for your own people at home might be a better achievement,” said George Galloway.
Ecuador grants political asylum to Julian Assange
The case of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks looks bizarre. Much of the data published by the latter can’t be validated, as the mainstream media keeps reminding its viewers. Other details had already appeared on the local media of the involved countries. In 2010, most Bolivians laughed hard at WikiLeaks’ disclosure that Iran was interested in uranium recently discovered in southern Bolivia; this had been published in the local media since 2007. Yet, most international readers do not read Bolivian newspapers and were awed by WikiLeaks audacity and accuracy. In other cases, the data published seemed to be aimed at embarrassing parties in unfriendly relations with the USA, as it was done recently in the case of Syria, when documents showing substantial commercial relations between Syrian leaders and the USA were made public. Assange may be a CIA agent, or he may have been used by the CIA to advance American interests. This is easy: WikiLeaks accepts anonymous contributions. On August 16, 2012, Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange; two days later, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa announced that Mr. Assange can stay within his country’s London embassy indefinitely. However, one day before the Ecuadorian decision was published, British authorities warned that they may try to arrest Mr. Assange after revoking the embassy’s diplomatic status according to a local law known as Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987. Ecuador may dispute this at the International Court of Justice since this law contradicts the “rule of inviolability” defined in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Meanwhile, a strange standoff is taking place in London. A Western Democracy is openly violating human rights defended by what until a few years ago would have been openly called a “Third World Country.”
Why Ecuador? Why not Bolivia? The argument is relevant. Both countries share much in common, including a very disturbing cooperation with Empire. Ecuador experienced a failed coup d’état in 2010; the event was perpetrated by the police force. According to Phillip Agee’s INSIDE THE COMPANY: CIA DIARY, this police force is owned by the CIA. This last event was widely dismissed by Western media. Yet, Venezuelan teleSur news network broadcast in 2011 an incredible report of the event in its program Dossier. There, journalist Walter Martinez did an exceptional job in showing the kidnapping of President Correa by the police. The video shows how a gas grenade is thrown on the president by a police officer, and his gas mask is taken away from his face while he is forcibly taken away. A few hours later, after it was apparent the event had failed, he was released. Then, the commander of the police force resigned. … This military-terror machinery had been trained by the USA, and was designed to perform exactly that: civilian terror for the profit of the Empire… Operation Condor was a campaign of political repression involving institutional assassination and intelligence operations implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. The United States—through the CIA—had planning, coordinative, and supportive roles. Later on, Ecuador and Peru joined the merry party. Two of these countries—Uruguay and Ecuador—are described as little more than CIA substations in the abovementioned book… (excerpt from The Cross of Bethlehem II: Back in Bethlehem).
Considering this, Assange’s petition and Ecuador’s answer look strange. However, personal considerations decided this case. Ecuadorian police may be serving the CIA, but the country’s actual president is not. Rafael Correa is obviously not an American supporter, having allied himself with Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. This is true despite his PhD in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His father was caught smuggling cocaine into the USA and was convicted and sentenced to five and a half years in prison. Later on, he committed suicide. The Ecuadorian president had publicly said that “…drug smugglers are not delinquents. They are single mothers or unemployed people who are desperate to feed their families.” In this context, Julian Assange request for asylum in Ecuador makes sense.
No less interesting is the question why Assange? Why does Ecuador endanger its relations with the UK for the sake of freedom of speech? This seems unlikely. President Correa is not exactly a human rights champion. On 16 February 16, 2012, Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli granted diplomatic asylum to Carlos Pérez Barriga, one of the directors of El Universo, Ecuador’s largest newspaper. This happened after the ratification of a sentence convicting the newspaper’s directors to three years in prison and the payment of $40 million for the crime of slanderous offenses against President Rafael Correa. A stand-off developed since Ecuador didn’t let the now Panamanian refugee leave the embassy’s compound. Following international pressure, the offended President Correa pardoned the dangerous criminals. This is not the behavior of someone who respects freedom of speech, or even basic human rights.
Rafael Correa’s reputation as a democratic leader had been put in danger by the incident at the Panamanian embassy just a few months ahead of presidential elections. By giving asylum to Assange, he portrays himself as a protector of human rights, standing proudly against Empire. His parallel standoff against Panama had been dwarfed by this new event. Thus, Ecuador and Assange is a perfect match.
We are witnessing an extraordinary event. For the first time, Western Democracies are facing a serious challenge to their eternal chorus “we are democracies, we defend human rights, we have freedom of speech.” For the first time, this is being challenged and everybody can see the extent of the Western kings’ nakedness. In an odd example of operational efficiency, one of the arguments brought by Mr. Assange in his asylum request was the illegitimate detention conditions of Bradley Manning, a USA Army soldier who leaked confidential information to WikiLeaks. He was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq as is kept since then in almost complete isolation, in violation of his basic rights. This violation of the law is systemic of the American administration; finding examples is easy. The American government was quick to destroy all evidence of 9/11, to the extent of making sure the towers’ steel would be melted and kept in the possession of the state in the form of a war-ship. Under the circumstances, any claims by the American government on the issue are nothing but a logical “non sequitur;” the American government is unable to prove even one of its arguments regarding the cause of the collapse, because there is no evidence. The USA took advantage of Western logical fallacies to hide… what?
The UK is not better. In January 2007, the News of the World’s then royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for hacking into the mobile phones of royal aides. Then-editor Andy Coulson resigned but claimed he did not know about the practice. This was the result of a story about Prince William’s knee injury published in November 2005; it indicated that voicemail messages were being intercepted. In July 2009, The Guardian newspaper reported that NoW journalists had been involved in the hacking of up to 3,000 celebrities, politicians and sports stars’ phones. A series of police inquiries and legal cases have shown the practice was widespread, with implications for the police, celebrities, politicians and even victims of crime and their families. On July 6, 2011, the Metropolitan Police chief vowed that officers who took payments from NoW publisher News International would be disciplined. That means the British police recognized involvement on the hacking of citizens’ phones. This is a clear violation of article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which defends our Right to Privacy. The same day the British Prime Minister promised (yet another) full investigation on the institutional crimes. Later, in 2011, it was found that victims of crime and their families – including relatives of the 7/7 bombing victims, murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the parents of murdered Soham girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman – were among those having had their phones hacked by the police. The police systematically collected the last personal messages sent from and to the victims. Did the police officers later tell jokes about the sentimental farewells? Are the messages attached to the billboards of every British police station? Did the police suspect the murdered schoolgirls were the masterminds behind the attacks? Nobody knows why the police performed these ugly violations. Nobody knows if the collected data has been properly destroyed. The police never apologized.
The British police failed to understand they committed crimes against the victims and their country, despite being against British law to intercept voicemail messages on mobile phones. These are not just allegations. The first case of the complex affair was proven in court, and on 10 April 2011 an official apology was made on the NoW website and on page two of the newspaper for intercepting voicemails between 2004 and 2006. There is no way of denying the crimes. In the awkward UK monarchic system, Elizabeth II is the sovereign. Thus she is the responsible for crimes committed by the state. Before the affair was known, she could allege innocence; since it was proven in court she cannot.
“Wait a minute; Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire were jailed. Your claim is outrageous!” royalists may be thinking now while reading these lines and furiously scribbling an answer to me. That’s correct, yet irrelevant. The problem is different. The British administration is built to enable the easy hacking of phones by the MI5, MI6, and eventually, the entire CAZAB group. That’s true since the days Mary, Queen of Scots, tried to defend herself from the sharp, infected teeth of Queen Elizabeth I and Francis Walsingham. Readers wishing to learn more on this affair can do so in the excellent The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh.
I am not just making a general claim on the Queen’s responsibility. There is a smoking gun named the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006, which was of course approved by the parliament, government, and queen. The Act forbids the “use of any apparatus, whether or not wireless telegraphy apparatus, for the purpose of interfering with any wireless telegraphy” anywhere within the UK. Protecting oneself from tracking through a wireless device is simple. I described in The Cross of Bethlehem how I shielded my pocket PC with a simple Faraday’s Shield; and the dramatic results of this simple action. Yet, the meaning of the act is that protecting your own phone is illegal. That’s strange. Why does the Act forbid that? Because then you would become invisible to the violating police forces. Again, this is a clear violation of Article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by one of the main countries claiming to defend it. Let’s talk hypocrisy now.
Queen Elizabeth II doubles as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. It is safe to assume that she considers herself a Christian. With all my respect, I want to ask you, where exactly in the New Testament did you learn this behavior? Where did Jesus teach you to brutally violate your flock? Noble monarch, I am not too picky, just give me one verse. Just one and I will delete this article and publicly apologize to you.
You won’t find any such words; you won’t either find any words supporting the Western ongoing rampage along and across the world, killing innocents for centuries in the name of freedoms to be denied the day after they are awarded. Dear monarch, we are tired. We don’t believe your state-sponsored propaganda about human rights. We don’t believe your talks about democracy. We don’t trust your violent attempts to create Walsingham-styled states in the few free places left. We are tired of double-tongued, serpentine leaders. Queen Elizabeth II, Monarch of the United Kingdom, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, this is your opportunity to show real leadership and to enter history as a great leader. Recognize the error and faults of your system, and make it a godly place to live in. It is time for you to show some love to your people instead that to the Bank of England.
What we are seeing here are not democracies; neither the UK nor the USA. These are technocracies run by cool-hearted, bank-oriented administrators, who care neither about the legal basis of their regimes nor about being reelected. These are technocracies which are not shy of making false allegations against anyone endangering them. These are technocracies which care not about the violation of rights, unless the victim works for the government. These are technocracies, that compared to them, even Ecuador seems an enlightened society. Julian Assange helped to expose yet another Western hypocrisy; regardless the truth behind the case, we thank him for that.
In Arabic we say in Arabic, those who have a Glass home should avoid throwing stones on neighbors….
Turkey Car Bomb
August 20, 2012
A remote-detonated car bomb killed seven people in front of a police station in the southern Turkish town of Gaziantep on August 20, 2012. You can see video footage of the aftermath of the Gaziantep car bomb below.
So far, nobody has claimed responsibility for the bomb attack.
Gaziantep is less than 50km from the Syrian border, and has been receiving aid packages for the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war.
Bomb in Turkish town of Gaziantep kills seven
Television footage showed firefighters attempting to douse a fierce blaze that gutted several vehicles.
Turkey has opened a centre in Gaziantep to receive international aid for Syrian refugees fleeing the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey is struggling to cope with an influx of almost 70,000 Syrian refugees.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but southeastern Turkey has seen frequent attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union. The group launched a separatist insurgency in the region 28 years ago.
Some say it started in Tunisia , some others say it started in Lebanon in the fake Cedar’s revolution that sought to disarm the Lebanese Resistance , but this was seven years ago and there was a split in the Lebanese population that could not be overlooked and which prevented the so-called revolution from mobilizing all ; it rather mobilized one faction against the other and it proved to be never the less fake.
The “real” Arab spring started in Palestine , in Gaza specifically, that is where it all started after the 2008 assault when the world order started exploiting the world wide growing empathy with the Palestinian plight. A boat from here , another from there , a march from here another from there , a convoy here and there , all accompanied by an incomparable so called pro Palestinian campaign on the internet and fb to the point one started wondering where from all these so called” lovers “of Palestine and Gaza came and where were they before?
The truth is that all kinds of NGOs became very busy promoting the issue of Palestine and praising Palestine and calling for its assistance and help . People of all kinds , from all countries and places had one word on their lips that is Palestine and the siege on Gaza and the fate of Palestinians there. It was the Palestine Chill that was communicated to all .
This awakening to the Palestinians’ plight in Gaza did not happen alone , it was premeditated because the revolutionary spring that was to overtake many Arab countries on after the other needed a solid platform to head to other places , and the Palestinian platform- in the form of besieged Gaza- presented the best place to launch the Arab revolutions prepared especially by the world order through the different NGO’s in order to offer to Arabs a revolution that is conform both to their tastes and expectations and addresses their deeply frustrated being .
So much Palestine became celebrated every where in unexpected places and faces while boats full of activists were sent one after the other all heading to Gaza and most failing to reach it, rallying thus more and more people to the cause of the besieged. Did the cause become international? Only in appearance , the truth is that the cause was hijacked by Intelligence services and the multiple NGOs who have infiltrated everywhere and everything with the exception of very few genuine personal endeavors.
The people sharing in this campaign came from everywhere, some where honest activists but many worked for dubious organizations and foreign intelligence. The so called activist called Mahdi al Harati who shared in the Irish flotilla is a CIA agent on the payroll of the agency and was hired and sent later to Libya to lead the battle of Tripoli .Other activists had also dubious affiliations , there is no doubt that people like Catherine Myles- who abducted the Aloha Palestine mission- has dubious and sectarian affiliations and is linked to foreign intelligence and so are the people who supported her and helped her or worked with her, among them people like Mary Rizzo and Robert Hand who both promote an Israeli agenda’ and a whole bunch of so called activists who have nothing to do with Palestine but work on a Turkish/Israeli assignment and who in no time –as if by magic- will turn from supportive of Palestine to enemies of Syria calling for the overthrowing of Assad and for foreign NATO military intervention .
Most of these people were gathered around Gaza by the world establishment , and from there and after achieving their mission , were dispatched to different places to continue the mission of stirring the Arab so called revolutions and then that of occupying Libya and campaigning against Syria .
All this International activity around Gaza was a prelude to Arab springs and ended drastically with the event of the Mavi Marmara by the slaughter of nine Turkish activists by the Israelis after which Turkey’s role in the Palestinian issue became consecrated at the expense of the Syrian and Iranian commitment to the Palestinian cause and as a fake substitute to it. . .. Few months later the Arab springs started , the boat movement quieted down and became almost non existent , it had served its purpose of mobilizing people that could be used later in different endeavors . Had it been genuine and after so many sacrifices the peace activism around Gaza should have flourished instead, but this is not so . After the fall of Bin ‘Ali and Mubarak and after the war in Libya , the pro Gaza international activism is now directed to threatening Syria and launching the anti Assad campaign as a prelude to undermining the Armed Resistance to Israel and start a new chapter of recognizing and normalizing according to the Turkish model.
Beheading was the best way for the Yankee settlers to count their victims among the Natives Indigenous ; but then the whole activity of collecting indigenous heads became an industry on its own due to the material reward attached to it . Francis Jennings in his book “The Invasion of America “ says that the white occupiers set a reward for whoever killed an indigenous and brought his head, and then the occupiers started scalping the heads except when there was need to identify the victim . The first compensation allotted for bringing back an indigenous scalp goes back to 1694 , and in September of the same year, the tribunal of the state of Massachusetts decided to compensate materially each white hunter who brings an Indian scalp of whatever age or gender , and the rewards differed according to the position of the hunter from 50 pounds to the average settler and 10 pounds to the military , then this habit of compensation spread to all other states , then the prices went up and, in 1704 , the price of each Indian scalp became 100 pounds. This was four times the earnings of a regular farmer in New England, so all what the settlers had to do , was to hunt two indigenous children and three indigenous women and live like king James himself . This is how scalping became for the settlers the most lucrative business , and the fastest way to become rich so much , that they even gave up the gold hunt to specialize in scalping , turning the indigenous blood into black oil .
From : “ the American Genocides , the Right to Sacrifice the Other “ by Munir Akash..
Remarkably, this Ramadan holiday season in Lebanon designees from both the Shia Higher Islamic Shiites Council and the Sunni Dar el Fatwa, figuratively speaking, pointed their binoculars deep into the eastern sky and in almost unheard of unison, proclaimed that Eid al Fitr this year was to be August 19th. It was a good omen for many in Lebanon that Shia and Sunni religious leaders agreed of this important event given the internal and external forces at work to further divide the two main denominations of Islam as well as all of Lebanon by sect, confession, geography, region, tribe, clan and neighborhood.
During the three day Al Fitr holiday, much of Muslim Lebanon becomes less active and many businesses close including Lebanon’s largest wholesale fruit and vegetable market which borders Shatila Palestinian refugee camp.
Just before closing time on Eid eve, this observer entered the vast produce market now run mainly by Shia who buy agriculture products from Bekaa Valley and southern farmers (minus one of Lebanon’s oldest and most important crops, Hashish or “ Lebanese Red Bud” as it’s known in Amsterdam smoke cafes and elsewhere). With little refrigeration, many of the wholesalers next to Shatila dumped, in time for Iftar and Eid feasts, large quantities of really fine produce at a designated corner of the ten acre market. They have been doing this for more than three years ever since the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign was lucky enough to convince the owners to dump their left over or soon to spoil fruit and vegetables in the southeast corner bordering Shatila camp. As a result of this charitable cross-denomination act, rather than disposing of the extra produce in dumpsters, Palestinian refugee families are given the much appreciated chance to collect free produce for their families.
Every day, men women and children from Shatila camp, as well as poor Lebanese and Syrian workers can be seen climbing over and thru hewn holes in the cinderblock wall bordering Shatila and gathering really excellent produce. This basic humanitarian gesture is an example of how the Shia can, and do, reach out to the largely Sunni Palestinian community. Cross confessional gestures such as this are among the reasons Palestinians in Lebanon support Hezbollah and the growing regional and international Resistance it leads.
Eid al Fitr also coincides this year with International Quds Day which was introduced from Iran in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini and which is commemorated on the last Friday of Ramadan, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and opposing Zionism and Israel’s control of Jerusalem.
In Lebanon’s refugee camps this Eid Al Fitr holiday season there is intense heat, little electricity or drinking water, and a paucity of fresh air or breeze available to the jammed populations. Ein el Helwe, the largest of Lebanon’s 12 camps which according to the most recent UNWRA statistics houses 47,500 refugees but in reality now is home to more than 100,000. They like their fellow countrymen temporarily in Lebanon, have few reasons to celebrate. The competition for breathing space has increased as the camps populations have swelled even more with refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.
This year there are fewer sweets for the children, less food, not many gifts or new clothes and few flowers to place on the graves of deceased love ones, a gesture by custom made during traditional Eid Al Fitr cemetery visits. In the tightly packed Palestinian cemeteries, of which they are only four in Lebanon, sometimes as many as five layers of bodies are buried on top of one another due to lack of space.
There is another anniversary that coincides in Lebanon this year with Eid al Fitr and with International Al Quds day but it’s no occasion for joy among the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
It is the second anniversary of the August 17, 2010 amendment to article 59 of the Lebanese Labor Law which constituted a betrayal of Palestinian refugees by Lebanese politicians. Before the vote, across the political spectrum were heard promises to enact legislation granting the elementary civil rights to work and to own a home in Lebanon. This country is the only one on earth that denies Palestinian refugees the basic right to work or even to own a home.
The legislation passed was simply a cruel hoax and has not facilitated one Palestinian refugee obtaining a job over the past 24 months. The amendment, while waiving work permit fees which were never a serious problem in obtaining a work permit, left in place numerous restrictions and catch-22 Kafqesque barriers that previously blocked Palestinians from being able to work. Parliament also left in place the racist 2001 law which outlawed any Palestinian from owning a home.
Ministers of Labor over the past two years have willfully failed to implement the new law, such as it is, by refusing the simple act of signing implementation papers. Less than two months ago a Palestinian delegation was promised yet again that a majority party in Parliament would see to it that the Minister of Labor did his job as mandated by the Lebanese constitution. Once more nothing was done. On this second anniversary of the fake “Palestinian work permit legislation” most Lebanese politicians who made so many promises to this observer and others over the past four years to comply with international and Lebanese law and grant basic civil rights to Palestinians in Lebanon remain asleep on this issue.
Nevertheless, the hope of Palestinian refugees to achieve the basic civil right to work and to own a home is not extinguished in the camps this holiday season by the impotence of Lebanon’s big talk but do nothing Parliament. One reason for hope comes from the voices of people like Miss Hiba Hajj, a Palestinian princess living in Ein el Helwe camp. This observer visited with her recently after sneaking into Ein el Helwe camp thru that smelly claustrophobic 30 inch, heavily trafficked sewer conduit at the eastern edge of the camp.
The US Embassy here made crawling through the sewer line sort of obligatory for Americans wanting to visit Ein el Helwe camp ever since it directed the Lebanese Armed Force (LAF) not to grant Americans permission to enter the camp out of presumed, but misplaced, concern for their wellbeing. It was Hiba (“gift from God” in Arabic), then a youngster of 14 years, who proclaimed three years ago when she volunteered to help achieve the right to work and home ownership for “my people” as she referred to them, stated to this observer and friends: “Failure is not an option for the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, our only choice is success.” And so it remains.
While the most elementary civil rights still have not been granted, Hiba continues to inspire us all with her rapid, charismatic and at times mesmerizing speech outlining what needs to be done and how to do it to achieve dignity for her fellow refugees.
“I want you to do something worthwhile with your lives so we can get back to Palestine without more delay! Do you want to spend your lives in Lebanon? It’s not and will never be our country!” she scolds them as she asks for help to organize a major intifada here in Lebanon to prevent another anniversary from passing without Palestinian refugees attaining the civil rights to work and to own a home.
Hiba is encouraged this holiday season despite the failures of Lebanon’s political parties, international activists, the international community “ so very concerned with humanitarian values!” as she lectures her mates, and most especially the failure to date of groups here in Lebanon including the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign to achieve our goals.
This remarkable youngster idealistically reminds her coterie of likeminded teens of last week’s words of Hezbollah’s Secretary-General who she and her friends admire, trust, and believe.
During his International Al-Quds Day speech, Hassan Nasrallah stated that Imam Khomeini`s declaration of Al-Quds Day falls within the context of a long continuum of religious and political commitment to “the sacred cause of Palestine” and that Al-Quds Day should not be simply a seasonal occasion to support the Palestinian people.
Today, the nation can do much for Palestine and its people. At the very least, the rulers can themselves stop blockading the Palestinians before asking them to assist in lifting the siege off the Palestinians.
A Part of the blockade suffered by the Palestinian people is practiced by some Arab regimes. This embargo must be lifted and support must be submitted”.
Hiba and her friends interpreted these words to mean Hezbollah will use its power in Parliament and finally grant them the right to work in Lebanon thus delivering to them a less bleak future. Palestinians in Lebanon, and their international supporters, are acutely aware that Hezbollah still holds majority power in Parliament and will do so at least until next year’s Parliamentary elections if they are even held which to this observer appears doubtful.
Hiba particularly liked Hezbollah’s Secretary-General’s words which she quoted:
“We must help the Palestinians towards this cause to uphold the right of return and to refuse any resettlement as well as to reject assimilation in any country as is happening through their forced migration to countries in Latin America, Europe, Australia and others.”
Heba and Hezbollah’s other supporters who share Sayed Hassan Nasrallah’s oft expressed views demanding basic human rights for Palestinians in Lebanon believe that the Resistance block will, on this 30th anniversary of the massacre at Sabra-Shatila, finally act on what the late Imam Khomeini declared was a central “moral, religious, and political” obligation of all people of good will.
He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon.
He contribute to Uprooted Palestinians Blog
Please Sign http://www.petitiononline.com/ssfpcrc/petition.html
Syria and Us (Part I)
By Jane Duncan
Banner at Oakland, USA demo:
Last week, the world was confronted with the horror of South Africa’s first post-apartheid massacre. Over thirty striking Lonmin mineworkers were killed by the police, who turned semi-automatic rifle fire onto the workers after claiming that they were shot at first.
Time will tell whether this was the case, but even if it was, it did not justify the mass killing of so many workers. The available information points to the police having used inappropriate, excessive force to quell the protest.
Why did this happen? Policing commentators have blamed the re-introduction of the military ranking system, which existed under apartheid, which they argue has brought back a more authoritarian policing culture. Other commentators have noted a de-skilling of the public order police, who lack basic crowd management skills, and as a result quickly resort to violence when confronted with protestor violence.
If steps were taken to de-militarise the police again and re-skill them in less confrontational crowd management tactics, how likely is it that the police will return to the rights-based, facilitative policing of protest action that was favoured after the transition to democracy?
The shift towards more repressive policing is not confined to South Africa. Earlier this month, the police used automatic rifles to gun down Sudanese anti-austerity protestors. Chilean students who occupied schools to demand educational reforms were forcefully ejected and arrested by the police. In May, the police used disproportionate force to quell anti-austerity protests by Spain’s ‘Indignados’.
A report released last month by a network of US-based universities, entitled ‘Suppressing Protest’, found that the police had used excessive force against Occupy Wall Street protestors, routinely violating protestors’ rights to free expression and assembly. Globally, hardly a week goes by without significant police violence against protests.
Since anti-globalisations protestors closed down World Trade Organisation negotiations in Seattle, and the events of September 11, 2002, protest policing has undergone a sea change. Increasingly, public order police have relied on confrontation rather than negotiation, and the onset of the world capitalist crisis in 2008 accelerated this change.
Escalating police violence is a symptom of a growing social crisis. In expansionary periods, the police can afford to project an acceptable face and facilitate the rights to assembly and expression.
In the most recent expansionary period of the 1990′s, the dominant mode of democratic protest policing involved a negotiated management of protests, where the police facilitated the protestors’ assembly and expression rights and emphasised communication with protestors. Political elites could rule by consent fairly easily, as they could afford to offer reforms to workers to stabilise the system. The political risks of the use of force, arrests and harassment to maintain power outweighed the political benefits.
South Africa’s transition to democracy took place when this negotiated mode of protest policing was ascendant, leading to it becoming the police’s guiding philosophy. Protests were conducted as a negotiated ritual between the government, the police and protestors, in terms of the Regulation of Gatherings Act.
But in recessionary periods, the ruling elite find it more difficult to afford reforms, and they often implement austerity measures. Protestors find that the negotiated protest rituals of the previous period no longer work to stem the decline in working and living conditions, and seek more effective strategies. As a result, the ruling class find it increasingly difficult to maintain their wealth and power through democratic and peaceful means. They turn increasingly to paramilitary tactics, and actively promote the ‘law and order’ aspects of the state.
In response to the Seattle protest, the police increased their powers over protests. Rapidly, confrontation replaced negotiation as the dominant policing style and police ‘command and control’ of protests came back into vogue.
Increasingly, the police sought to control protests more effectively by setting the ground rules for them and punishing even the most minor infractions of the law. In the earlier phase of this shift, the police devised ingenious micro-techniques to repress dissent without resorting to lethal force, such as the strategic incapacitation technique where the police targeted and harassed protests leaders rather than the whole protest.
Proactive, intelligence driven policing also became more prevalent, where the police infiltrated organisations to identify and isolate ‘troublemakers’. Public spaces were also more tightly policed. Containment strategies such as ‘kettling’, where police herded protestors into an enclosed space and then attacked them, became more commonplace.
Instead of reducing conflict, this over-policing of protests has often escalated conflict. On occasion, the police used this escalation to their advantage to justify the use of excessive, even lethal force, on the grounds of self-defence. Since 2008, the police have on many occasions dispensed with the niceties of incapacitation techniques, and relied more on brute force to quell dissent.
The South African state is being buffeted between these two apparently competing public order policing philosophies, but there is growing evidence that the authoritarian philosophy is gaining ground, although this shift is uneven and contested internally. Largely, the South African media have done a dismal job in tracking this shift and explaining its significance.
Another problem pointed out in the ‘Suppressing Protest’ report is the increasing number of accountability and transparency failures when protestors complain of police violence. South Africa’s experience with formal accountability systems is also not a good one. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and its predecessor have been largely ineffective in stemming growing police violence.
But if the mooted judicial enquiry into the massacre is to get to the root of the problem, then it will need to recognise that authoritarian policing practices are on the rise globally, which makes the problems South African grassroots movements face more intractable. When viewed in its correct global context, arguably the rise in police violence should not be attributed to a de-skilling of the police in crowd management, but a re-skilling in the new authoritarian policing practices. If this is the case, then police riots are likely to become more commonplace. While this is a gloomy assessment of recent events, it may also be the most realistic one.
On the upside, anti-repression activism is also on the rise globally. Increasingly anti-austerity movements are co-ordinating responses to arrests, including medical and legal support. An array of academic and legal support organisations are monitoring civil liberty violations, demanding information about policing practices and pursuing prosecutions.
In South Africa, where many protests have turned violent, including at Lonmin, the police and even the media have used this violence to delegitimize the protests, which has made it easier for the police to use violence in response. What is often ignored is the fact that overwhelmingly, the instruments of violence remain in the hands of the state, and that the primary violence that gave rise to the protests is the structural violence of the system.
When activists co-ordinate responses to defend democratic spaces against police violence, they are often highly effective because the police are susceptible to political pressure. Such responses have not really coalesced in South Africa yet, but have the potential to. The Lonmin massacre has galvanised important initiatives to organise against police violence.
But unless such initiatives are linked to a political movement against austerity and inequality, their effectiveness is likely be limited. In the wake of the massacre, and police violence elsewhere, the building of such linkages is an urgent political task for social justice movements, globally and locally.