Police brutality against protesting workers in Indian-occupied Kashmir

Srinigar, India strike (Danish Ismail:Reuters) May 28 2015

What terrible crime could this unarmed man in Srinagar, India have committed to provoke the cop into beating him so violently with a truncheon? Did he assault a defenseless woman or senior? Did he steal someone’s handbag or try to pick someone’s pocket? Or did he do much worse? He must have done something worth a good beating since India is the “biggest democracy in the world.”

Well it’s quite disheartening to learn that in such a bastion of democracy & due process the fellow being beaten is a government worker protesting to regularize their employment from temporary & contractual to permanent work which probably has some benefits involved. They also demanded payment of wages in arrears. Since 1994 they’ve been working as day wagers despise promises their work would be regularized. It’s a mystery why such a democratic regime would go after such protesters & striking workers with heavy tear gas shelling & truncheons.

Perhaps someone from Kashmir can explain to us why workers have been striking over these same issues for years without resolution? The workers have been intransigent against extreme police belligerence, including the use of water cannons with toxic purple dyes.

Our deepest respect to these government workers for their determination.

(Photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters)

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to be force relocated to cyclone prone island

Rohingya in Bangladesh (AM Ahad:AP) May 28 2015

The scale of inhumanity & barbarism toward the Rohingya is finally being exposed for all the world to see. And the crimes involve several regimes. While there are still up to 4,000 Rohingya adrift at sea, the big-assed Indonesian military can’t get helicopters out there scouting for them or ships to rescue them. And in Thailand, close to the Malaysian border, they’ve found several concentration camps with dozens of graves believed to contain bodies of murdered Rohingya.

Last week, the president of Ecuador offered assistance & refuge to those adrift in the Andaman Sea. No sightings yet of Ecuadorian ships looking for stranded Rohingya. Big talk doesn’t cut it.
The president of Gambia has offered refuge to the Rohingya but you’d have to think twice about moving to a country just recovering from the Ebola epidemic where over a third of the people live under US $1.25 a day–especially when thousands of Gambians are risking their lives to immigrate to Europe.

In 2012, when Rohingya were sustaining a violent siege, thousands fled to Bangladesh & were forcibly turned away by border patrols. There are already an estimated 250,000 Rohingya in exile in Bangladesh but only 32,000 of them are registered with the UN refugee agency. Being unregistered means you’re on your own & don’t get the miserly assistance handed out by the UN. Of course neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, has created so many millions of refugees it must be near impossible for the UN to keep up with aid–especially when they’re also bankrolling troops like in DR Congo & Haiti.

Now the Bangladeshi government has announced they will relocate Rohingya refugees from camps near the Myanmar border in order to accommodate a neoliberal gentrification scheme turning the area into a tourist zone. There will be those who ask “Why should refugees be allowed to stand in the way of development?” And the answer is, “Development for who?” Bangladesh is a sweatshop haven with a large number of billionaires & millionaires, many who made their fortunes in real estate & all who made it in grand larceny & exploitation of labor. Nearly 35 percent of Bangladeshis live below that lousy US $1.25 poverty line. None of the poor will derive a penny out of that resort.

But the ugliest thing of all is that the Bangladeshi regime is preparing to move the Rohingya to Hatiya Island in the Bay of Bengal. Is there any infrastructure for them to earn a living? Probably not, since the island is frequently subject to cyclones & tsunamis. A UN official said the forced relocation would be “very complex & controversial”. You bet your sweet ass it would be; right along with cynical & genocidal.

The UN should muster up a little more that a plaintive rebuke & do something to stop this barbaric madness. Forced relocation has been condemned umpteen times in human history–unfortunately decades after they were carried out. Originated in colonialism, they have found new purpose under neoliberalism.

This photo is a senior Rohingya with his grandson standing in one of the squalid refugee camps in Ukhiya, Bangladesh.

(Photo by AM Ahad/AP)

Texas students will be packing; professors will no longer flunk anybody (if they’re smart)

The Texas legislature is trying to pass a bill allowing guns on university campuses. Wasn’t mass murder of students pioneered at the University of Texas in Austin by a deranged ex-Marine in 1966? Sniping from the observation tower on the main building he killed 16 people & injured 32 others.

Texas is where the “American Sniper” came from–a psycho killed by a mentally ill war veteran. Being bred on machismo, then trained in guns & psychologically devastated in war is a deadly combination.
The derangement in Texas goes all the way to the top–with legislators who think there could possibly be a good reason for a student, teacher, or staff to enter the campus packing.

Cynicism making a comeback. It’s still plug-ugly.

There’s a political journal that just started in England with the mantra “Your hope disgusts us” & counseling readers to “abandon hope.” That resonates with the inscription over the gate of Hell in Dante’s Inferno: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Not an auspicious inspiration for what is likely to be a brief tenure in journalism.

Cynicism is making a comeback because so many millions have fought for justice & seen their struggles apparently come to nought. Tyranny & human suffering increase around the world without any obvious solutions. So many people of good-will, especially those who are not activists, feel the only explanation is the irredeemable corruption of humanity & turn to despondence & cynicism. Even snide contempt.

Those who came of political age in the 1960s & 1970s were part of the gestalt of social transformation, inspired by possibilities after the horrors of WWII. Many activists around the world from that era carry that vision & continue as the backbone of social protest because we know what human beings are capable of in social struggle. We are unwilling to relinquish or cheapen the vision of a world without racism, war, misogyny, colonialism. An entire generation was changed–some of us forever–& became unwilling to settle for less than the best for the human race.

After so many decades in political struggle, which necessarily includes debate & conflict, we cannot be accused of naiveté for holding steadfast to a belief that working people are the agents of social change, not corrupt governments.

It’s very acceptable, especially against feminists but also in other social movements, to diss senior activists as all washed up & politically living in the past. In truth, young activists have a lot to learn from seniors. And vice-versa. And the most important thing to learn is to never give up the vision of a world based on human solidarity & the belief that working people can be the agents of social transformation. That’s why the seniors are still active.

Cynicism & abandoning hope will get you nowhere. Why go to hell before you die?

Militarizing the immigration crises

Syrian refugees near Greece (REUTERS:Yannis Behrakis) May 27 2015

Media has now switched attention from African immigration to Italy & Spain to Afghan & Syrian immigration to Greece. There are lots of photos of overcrowded dinghies crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece & landing without incident–almost like it’s a bucolic scene. But we should not for one moment be distracted from military preparations against African immigrants embarking from Libya under the guise of going after “Libyan militias, jihadi groups, & Islamic State affiliates believed to be in cahoots with the trafficking networks” & rumored to have heavy artillery & anti-aircraft batteries.

The British drafted a resolution to get a UN security council mandate which called for the “use of all means to destroy the business model of the traffickers”. The European Union (EU) smothered their war plans in sentimentality saying of the immigrants, “Such vulnerable people cannot be left to resort to the criminal networks of smugglers & traffickers.” In fact, many of them are likely fishermen, not criminal cartels.

Without consulting what there is of a Libyan government on the war plans & despite their opposition, ten EU countries have committed to military action in Libya’s territorial waters led by the Italian government & possibly involving NATO. All 28 EU states are reported to support the proposal. The EU also sent emissaries to China & Russia to muscle or bribe them into agreement at the UN.

The EU didn’t wait for the UN seal of approval but are already deploying warships into the Mediterranean from Germany, Italy, & the UK along with helicopter gunships to “neutralize” identified traffickers’ ships. And what will they do when they identify traffickers’ ships overloaded with immigrants? Torpedo them? Are military operations also planned for inside Libya? Will they just start bombing again where reportedly 500,000 immigrants are encamped waiting to board ships?

These war plans have nothing to do with criminal networks of ‘smugglers, jihadists, or IS affiliates’ & everything to do with terrorizing & deterring African immigrants. If hundreds or thousands of them are killed in the process, that is just less headaches to deal with, as the psycho leaders of the EU see it. It might be time we talk revolution.

Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders!

(Photo of Syrian & Afghan refugees crossing Aegean Sea to Greek island of Kos by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Gentrification and evictions in Manila

Philippines:Quezon City (EPA:RITCHIE B. TONGO) May 26 2015

This Filipino woman is watching bulldozers & riot cops move in to demolish the shanty town where 500 families live in Quezon City, a section of metropolitan Manila. There have been several of these slum demolitions, not just in Quezon City, but all over Manila; this is the second this month in Quezon City when another 300 families were evicted.

Residents have always mounted fierce resistance to these forced evictions & at the earlier one in May they pelted the demolition crew & cops with bottles, rocks, & plastic bags with poop & urine. Not at all inappropriate when you’re being driven into homelessness for purposes of gentrification–& when riot cops come armed with water cannons & other assaultive weapons against unarmed residents, including elderly & children.

The battles in Quezon City go back years with appeals by residents to the Commission on Human Rights, to the Manila Development Authority (which authorizes demolition squads), & attempts to get the Quezon city council to declare moratoriums on evictions until there are enough relocation sites–mind you, not provision of public housing for evictees, but empty lots where they can move. Quezon City, identified in 2008 as the richest city in the Philippines, has embarked on a massive infrastructure program including business parks, IT & call centers, high-priced condos, shopping malls, & other projects designed to attract investment. Shanty towns will not be allowed to stand in the way of that.

Most of the residents of urban slums were rural people displaced in predatory land-grabs & by IMF neoliberal agricultural policies. Neoliberalism is a scorched earth policy which includes privatizing public lands in metropolitan Manila & legal maneuvers to legitimize the piracy. Many slums & shanty towns were built on public lands. The government just as often uses bulldozers as it does torching the slums to drive residents out.

The Philippines is a highly militarized society, in concert with the US Pentagon. It receives millions of dollars in US military aid & holds annual joint military exercises with the US. The US & Filipino antiwar movements also have a joint demand: “Money for housing, not for war!”

(Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA)