People’s Tribunal on Burma’s Crimes Against Humanity, Sept. 18-22, 2017 at University of Malaya-Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I am honored & humbled beyond words to be invited to attend & report on this International People’s Tribunal on Burma’s Crimes Against Humanity. It will be September 18-22, 2017 at the University of Malaya-Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I can’t afford to attend in person but I will be covering it via live stream where others around the world can also follow the proceedings.

They are putting out a call for volunteers to help organize & promote the event in Kuala Lumpur. But of course promoting it around the world can be done by all of us.

It has been said that the destiny of the Rohingya living as a free people in Myanmar is a hopeless cause. On the contrary, for the first time in decades of persecution & ethnic cleansing, Rohingya activists have made their fight one of the most important in the world. Not to draw our pity but to strengthen solidarity with their struggle for human, democratic, civic, & refugee rights.

If you are interested in volunteering you can contact them at https://twitter.com/BurmaTaskForce or https://www.burmamuslims.org/PPT.

Please use this link to promote this very significant event exposing the human rights crimes of the Myanmar government against Rohingya Muslims.

 

Child Kashmiri freedom fighter

Masked boy protester (Bilal Ahmad) Aug 18 2017

There’s a tragedy here when young boys & teens have to be among those defending religious freedom against an occupying army. India is doing the same thing at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar as Israel is doing at Al Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem. Both occupying armies focus on disrupting Friday prayers. But of course those mosques are not the only places they cause disruptions because torching mosques & religious places are also long part of their attempts to challenge religious freedom.

It’s isn’t delinquency for youth like this small boy to resist such provocations & defend Friday prayers. Since when does the criminal element defend religious freedom?

(Photo by Bilal Ahmad)

Monuments to Frederick Douglass, freedom fighter

Frederick Douglass, Washington, DC

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) is one of the most outstanding figures in American history. He escaped from slavery in 1838 & became a leader, writer, & orator of the abolitionist movement. He was committed to Black, women’s, Native American, & immigrant rights. He traveled & lectured in Britain & Ireland, including during the Irish “potato famine” (actually a genocide) & collaborated with abolitionists & freedom fighters in both countries.

During the Civil War, he was an adviser to Abraham Lincoln & helped recruit Blacks to fight with the Union Army against the Confederacy.
In the 1872 elections, he ran as vice president to presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull for the People’s (Equal Rights) Party. He’s one of those the young can learn the most from theoretically & in movement building.

This statue in Washington, DC is one of not enough statues in his honor. It was dedicated in 2013.

Monuments to Harriet Tubman, freedom fighter

Harriet Tubman, Lions Park, Bristol, PA

Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) is one of the most remarkable people in American history. She was a runaway slave who escaped in 1849 & became a conductor of the Underground Railroad leading hundreds of slaves to freedom from the South. Risking her own freedom, she went south over & over again to personally lead them at night using the North Star as a guide. During the Civil War, she served as a scout & spy for the Union Army.

There are several, if not enough, monuments to Tubman. This one is in Lions Park, Bristol, Pennsylvania. She is the kind of person young people should be taught to hold in honor & respect. She will always be a giant among us.

Monuments glorifying extermination of Indians must also be razed

Duluth monument to three Black lynched men

Along with the hundreds of Confederate monuments that have to come down is another genre of monuments glorifying the US Army generals like George Custer who led expeditions to exterminate American Indian tribes. American Indian tribes have long been engaged in disputes with the US National Park Service over such monuments as well as over monuments that portray Indian opposition to the genocide expeditions as massacres. Getting rid of them is posed as a dispute over political correctness when it is really an issue of historical honesty & defending the right of those targeted for genocide to resist.

The counter-movement against the racist & Confederate monuments led by American Indian & Black activists & by human rights activists has produced powerful monuments which tell the truth.

This monument dedicated in Duluth, Minnesota in 2003, memorializes a 1920 event when a mob of 10,000 whites broke into the Duluth jail, took three Black men named Elmer Jackson, Elias Clayton, & Isaac McGhie from their cells & hung them. The three men were not criminals but were in town with the circus. Their lynchings were part of the racist terror unleashed to reverse Black Reconstruction that began after the Civil War.

These kind of monuments play a role in removing the pall of ignorance & amnesia necessary to the political hold of white supremacy that has so twisted American history.

Regarding media’s dishonest defense of General John Pershing

The US invaded the Philippines in 1898 with 40,000 troops which mushroomed to 126,000 by 1902. Pershing was commissioned there from 1898 until 1903. In 1901,  Mark Twain wrote a polemic against colonialism titled “To the Person Sitting in Darkness” which cites an American soldier in the Philippines from a letter to his mother in Iowa: “We never left one alive. If one was wounded, we would run our bayonets through him.”

That letter is not the only testimony to brutalities against Filipino civilians by the US Army. Reports of extreme barbarism by US troops were so rampant that in 1902 the US Senate committee conducted an investigation committee of war crimes in the Philippines. The letters of many US soldiers describing atrocities were introduced at the hearing along with testimony by generals & military officers deployed there. Rohingya Muslims will recognize the methods employed: entire villages were torched; civilians were tortured, including by waterboarding; tens of thousands were herded into concentration camps; thousands were summarily executed.

Estimates of Filipino civilian deaths during the 15 years of US occupation range between 250,000 & 1,000,000 with the higher number accounting for those killed by war, malnutrition, & a cholera epidemic after the war.

The terrorist bombings like in Barcelona & Cambrils are absolutely monstrous crimes against unarmed civilians & the perpetrators should be hunted down & prosecuted. They’re modeled on the carpet bombing of civilians in Gaza, Aleppo, Mosul, Raqqa, Yemen, Afghanistan, & elsewhere.

The only way to end the horrors of individual & state terror is to rebuild the international antiwar movement because human solidarity is the iron law of peace & social transformation.

Love those Confederate monuments coming down. Now on to taking that Confederate president down & driving those fascists back under their rocks.

Media is giving Trump hell about his glib admiration for General John Pershing’s war crimes against Moro Muslims in the US expedition in the Philippines (1899-1913). They claim it’s a myth that Pershing executed them with bullets dipped in pig blood or buried them with pigs in violation of Muslim religious beliefs. We don’t know if he did those particular crimes since US war crimes during colonial expeditions were unreported. They were also the norm. They didn’t even have international laws to shake the naughty finger about it. It is a certainty that Pershing ordered monstrous crimes against the Moro to humiliate them, violate their religious beliefs, torture them before executing them. That’s what kind of guy he was. That’s what colonialism was all about.

The old boy got his training by leading several expeditions in the wars to exterminate American Indians from the Dakotas to California. He was in several US wars at the height of its outright colonial period including in Cuba for the Spanish-American war; in the Philippines for the Moro Rebellion; in the Russo-Japanese war; in the expedition against Pancho Villa & the Mexican Revolution; & he was in WW1, a war fought between the US & European countries over colonial partition of the world. It’s not irrelevant that Pershing maintained strict segregation policies in the US Army during the war.

The only reason media is making a stink about Trump’s comments is not because they’re complete lies about Pershing but because Trump openly admires US war crimes which media insists never happen.

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