Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day 2016 & 25th anniversary of Kunan Poshpora mass rape & torture case

Kashmiri Women's Resistance Day

Today is Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day & also the 25th anniversary of the Kunan Poshpora mass rape & torture case of February 23rd, 1991. On that night, an elite regiment of the Indian army, on the pretext of hunting for “militants,” entered the twin villages of Kunan & Poshpora for a search operation. All men in the villages were herded into a nearby field while women were asked to remain indoors. Troops entered the homes & raped at least 23 girls & women, including a pregnant woman & women in front of their children.

The Indian government has repeatedly rejected charges of mass rape & torture as baseless, absurd, & unfit for criminal prosecution. It has campaigned to acquit the army of such charges & discredit those who make them. By October 1991, the case was closed by the Indian police.

Human rights groups challenge the conclusions of the Indian government. Even the US State Department, under President George H.W. Bush (the CIA guy), in its 1992 report on international human rights said there was “credible evidence” the Indian army engaged in mass rape at Kunan Poshpora.

In December 2012, the rape & murder of a women student in Delhi galvanized a protest movement & inspired five young Kashmiri women to investigate & write a book about the incident. The women are Samreen Mushtaq, Essar Batool, Natasha Rather, Munaza Rashid, & Ifrah Butt. The book was published by The University of Chicago Press & distributed by Zubaan Books in Delhi, India.

The book entitled, “Do you remember Kunan Poshpora?” is part of an eight-volume series on “Sexual Violence & Impunity in South Asia” & was officially released last month at the prestigious Jaipur Literature Festival. It will be released today at an event in Srinagar.

The book is important first of all to bring justice to the women of Kunan Poshpora but it also has international political importance since mass rape of women is a widespread military practice. It is an orchestrated, cold-blooded, & systematic military operation, not a case of troops gone wild. It is particularly notorious now in Kashmir, the Democratic Republic of Congo, & in Guatemala where in 2012 Mayan women testified at the trial of general José Efraín Ríos Montt who employed mass rape in the civil war between 1960 & 1996. In all cases, despite overwhelming, irrefutable documentation, impunity for the military is served up in place of justice.

Our deepest respect to the women of Kashmir & the authors of this book for standing up against the brutal edifice of military occupation.

Please like & share this event in solidarity:https://www.facebook.com/events/1675369429404166/

Pro-Israel bias in media reports of Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing

Araka, West Bank ( Mohamad Torokman:Reuters) Feb 23 2016

This photo in the Guardian-UK identifies this incident as in Araka, West Bank. It’s the iconic image of Palestinian Intifada we’ve seen a thousand times: youth with slingshots against one of the most sophisticated armies in the world; an army so practiced in the barbarisms of occupation that it is contracted around the world to teach those skills (including, but not exclusively, to Indian commandos occupying Kashmir & US police in the Black community).

The Guardian caption is something of a non sequitur but it can be inferred that these young men are protesting the murder of three Palestinian teenagers by Israeli soldiers several days ago because we are referred to the Guardian’s article about those incidents. Or more accurately, the Guardian’s reproduction of an Associated Press (AP) article from February 14th.

The AP report is typical of reportage about the summary executions of Palestinians by the Israeli army. There’s no evidence AP has reporters in the field; it appears like they sit in the headquarters of the Israeli army & get fed press releases which they issue as news. The only source they ever quote is the Israeli military though they cite the Palestinian health ministry for the names of the young boys.

AP reporting really raises the question of how news reports are generated. Is it like agriculture where five multinational corporations control the world food supply? Is news now just a manufactured commodity? Are reports about reality completely tailored to the needs of the power elite? If it weren’t for social & alternative media, we’d be in a hell of a pickle trying to figure out what’s happening.

What’s remarkable about AP reporting on the Israeli occupation is not that it is biased toward Israel (that’s standard media fare) but that rightwing Zionist journalists who worked for AP accused it of bias toward Palestinians because on occasion they have rejected outright Israeli propaganda submitted by the same reporters which justified the several carpet bombing sieges over Gaza.

In fact, Zionist publications are filled with tiresome accusations of media bias against Israel. They also repeatedly accuse the US government of turning its back on Israel. That’s not how US taxpayers–who hand over billions of dollars a year to arm Israel–see it. It’s not that Zionist ideologues have become completely unhinged from reality but that they are manipulating misinformed public opinion, trying to maintain the beleaguered Exodus mythology & the portrayal of Palestinian resistance to colonialism as terrorism.

The 2016 death rate in the West Bank is now over 180 with dozens of Palestinian teenagers kidnapped by Israeli soldiers. The names of the young boys executed by Israeli soldiers on February 14th are Nihad Waked & Fouad Waked, both 15, & Naim Safi, 17. May they Rest In Peace.

The AP story about their deaths ended with this sentence: “Peace Now, an Israeli watchdog group, said yesterday Israel had begun building 1,800 new settlement homes in the West Bank in 2015.” Any news agency with an ounce of journalistic integrity would get off its ass & send reporters to investigate Israel’s illegal settlements on expropriated Palestinian lands & stop treating the occupying army as a reliable source of information.

Honor & build the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel (BDS). Buy nothing with a barcode beginning 729. Long live Palestinian Intifada.

(Photo by Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

Political campaign against BDS crescendoes around the world

Younes Arar

Recently, there has been a tsunami of backlash from politicians against the growing boycott of Israel (BDS)–trying to intimidate activists & make it illegal for companies to honor through divestment. A lot of the focus will be on universities to curtail student solidarity work since governments can exercise control over educational institutions through funding.

Just a cursory review of some of the actions: last year, Obama signed an anti-BDS bill into law; today the Canadian parliament passed a motion condemning BDS; the UK is trying to implement a law making it illegal to organize or participate in the boycott of Israel; France has already declared it illegal. There have also been many political battles on campuses in several countries to defend BDS activities.

Florida recently became the fifth US state to pass anti-BDS legislation, joining Tennessee, New York, Indiana, & Pennsylvania. Thirty-five other states are considering legislation to outlaw BDS & there are non-binding resolutions condemning BDS that have already passed or are pending.

These bills & resolutions are nothing to sniff at because they attempt to define BDS activities as anti-Semitic & as hate speech, & attempt to associate it with alleged targeting of Jewish & pro-Israel students on campuses–which they claim, without a shred of substantiation, is increasing dramatically. These laws also are a direct assault on the Bill of Rights, in particular the first amendment right to free speech.

It’s reported that rightwing pro-Israel Christian groups are instrumental in initiating anti-BDS legislation & that the campaign is well-funded & coordinated. For anyone familiar with the legal & legislative campaigns waged by the same political forces against reproductive rights for women, especially abortion rights, all sorts of red alerts go off. For decades those forces bombarded the courts & legislatures with lawsuits, bills & resolutions to truncate women’s access to birth control & abortion. The leading women’s organizations had been co-opted into the Democratic Party & relied on an electoral strategy (i.e., electing pro-choice candidates) so that nothing was done to defend women’s rights–except for three demonstrations in Washington, DC over the course of forty years that all drew close to a million people. In order to drive back the rightwing offensive, women’s organizations need to outdo them in consistent activity & relentless determination.

Even though many of the initiatives against abortion rights seemed farcical, the effectiveness of that rightwing strategy is more than proven–not because it is a brilliant political strategy but because the women’s movement did not/does not massively respond by calling out the big battalions to defend women’s rights.

Palestinian solidarity activists & civil libertarians cannot rely on the Bill of Rights to guarantee our right to build BDS. Palestine Legal, a US advocacy group that monitors attacks on BDS said “None of the bills…can or will take away your constitutionally-protected rights” because they are protected by the US Constitution. But without massive political pressure & public mobilization, those rights will be taken away, regardless of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was in force during the McCarthy Era in the 1950s but it was completely disregarded. It is also not irrelevant that under the Obama administration, major inroads have been made against the Bill of Rights.

The political & international attacks on BDS speak to its effectiveness & power. Rather than be intimidated, we must be emboldened to fight harder & more steadfastly because while Israel & its allies step up attacks on BDS, they are also accelerating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. In this photo, Palestinians in the West Bank are watching Israeli bulldozers demolish their homes (last week). Every week, Israel demolishes 49 homes to provide room for Jewish settlers from all over Kingdom Come to move in & making hundreds of Palestinians homeless.

Honor & build BDS! Build the March 20th Palestine solidarity march in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Younes Arar)

Anyone who has ever listened to this Canadian-Palestinian poet read her poem “We teach life, sir” has probably listened to it over & over again because its power never wanes. It’s a spellbinding reading & an anthem of Palestinian resistance.