Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) protests to defend Chairperson Khurram Parvez

AFAD Asia protest Sept 30 2016

The arrest of Khurram Parvez is not arbitrary on the part of the Indian military. They picked up a high-profile activist. known internationally for his work, who was in the news for India’s refusal to allow him to leave the country to attend a UN meeting on human rights. Officials know damn well he has done nothing in word or deed to provoke violence in Kashmir but only to expose & protest human rights crimes against Kashmiris.

They arrested him to signal Kashmiri activists that no one is beyond the reach of the military’s draconian penal system, that no one is protected regardless how well-known or fearless. The intention is to intimidate activists, scare the crap out of them so they’ll stop protesting, make them feel defenseless. Truth be told, it is sometimes an effective tactic. But will it daunt the struggle against the occupation or for self-determination? The campaign to defend him is more likely to inspire Kashmiri youth to follow the path of Khurram Parvez & other human rights activists & less likely to scare the defiance out of them.

These are activists from the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) in front of the Indian Embassy in Indonesia demanding the immediate, unconditional release of AFAD Chairperson Khurram Parvez.

(Photo from the FB wall of AFAD Asia)

Update on legal action taken by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society in defense of Khurram Parvez:

COURT UPDATE: Yesterday, a single judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court heard the petition for the quashing the PSA on Khurram Parvez. Notice was issued to the government to respond to the petition in two weeks. The petition challenges the unlawful PSA detention of Khurram Parvez, a noted human rights defender, on numerous grounds. Fundamentally, it is submitted that the detention is based on fabricated cases to punish Khurram Parvez for his human rights work in Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, the court will hear arguments on 7 October on the application to shift Khurram Parvez from the Jammu Kot Bhalwal jail to the Srinagar jail.

“The Fate of Syria Under Assad” by Rohini Hensman

Airstrikes on hospitals & homes in Aleppo (PBS) Sept 30 2016

The dominant voices in a fragmented antiwar movement support Assad, support Russia & the other regimes intervening on Assad’s behalf, deny the Syrian uprising against Assad in 2011, & only oppose US military involvement, which they consider a regime-change operation.

There is a cacophony of divergent opinions, with some opposing Assad while calling for US intervention against his regime.Those have apparently missed the last 100 years of US military history. There are also those who are consistent antiwar, pro-Syrian democracy activists. To unravel all this, you almost have to make a mission out of it.

There are sources completely useless except for understanding Assadist analyses. Chief among them would be Global Research which has opposed the Syrian revolution against Assad since 2011. They also considered the Arab uprisings in Egypt & elsewhere to be orchestrated by the CIA & Mossad. They are straight-out, unapologetic libertarians in their analytical approach. Conspiracy thinking & speculations run rampant.

Counterpunch (CP) also publishes lots of rubbish on the issue, including Pepe Escobar. But they have also published articles by Joshua Frank, a CP editor, & by Ashley Smith from the ISO with lucid analyses from a consistent antiwar, pro-Syrian democracy point of view.

One can also follow the website of Alliance of Syrian & Iranian Socialists for antiwar, pro-Syrian democracy analyses:

This article titled “The Fate of Syria Under Assad” by Rohini Hensman is particularly cogent & clarifies why many antiwar activists, including myself, oppose Assad’s regime & demand he end the bombing of civilians; oppose all military intervention into Syria & demand the immediate withdrawal of all air & ground forces; & continue to support the democratic forces in opposition to Assad’s dictatorship.

Filipino students protest death squads of president Rodrigo Duterte

Filipino students protesting drug killings (Bullit Marquez:AP) Sept 30 2016

Filipino political activists don’t get such a kick out of president Rodrigo Duterte’s coarse language as some Assad supporters do because of his vigilante death squads against poor drug addicts.

These activists understand that poverty & drug addiction should not be addressed by unleashing death squads to shoot them all down in the streets. They understand that those murdered were human beings & had human rights. They understand the political character of Duterte & that if his vigilante program against drug addicts is not opposed & defeated, that he will eventually turn them on political activists who oppose his monstrous regime.

Our fullest solidarity & immense respect for these university students in Manila protesting Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs” campaign.

(Photo by Bullit Marquez/AP)

Protests against police shooting of Alfred Okwera Olango in El Cajon, CA

El Cajon, CA ( Hayne Palmour:AP) Sept 30 2016

Fearlessness combined with fury at what seems an epidemic of police shootings of unarmed Black men: This is a protest in El Cajon, California (a suburb of San Diego) against the fatal police shooting last Tuesday of 38-year-old Alfred Okwera Olango.

Olango was a Ugandan refugee who came to the US at the age of 12 with his family for political asylum. According to his mother & his sister who made the 911 call, he had recently lost a beloved friend & was distraught with grief. He was not mentally ill as previously reported.

He was in the parking lot of a shopping mall when police officers approached him & demanded he remove his hand from his pocket. They will have to explain why that would be considered suspicious behavior. They claim he took a threatening “shooting stance” & so they shot him several times. There is video of the episode taken by a witness which the police have yet declined to release.

(Photo by Hayne Palmour/AP)

Emancipation Assad & Putin-style: bombing Aleppo to smithereens

Aleppo, Sept 25 2016 (REUTERS:Abdalrhman Ismail) Sept 30 2016

Emancipation Assad & Putin-style: this is Aleppo, Syria last Sunday after 150 airstrikes by Russian & Syrian bombers.

The Syrian military announced a new offensive to retake the part of Aleppo “under rebel & jihadist control since 2012” & urged the 276,000 civilians who live there to flee & surrender themselves to Syrian Army checkpoints.

There’s no report if anyone managed to flee “jihadist” control but the majority of them probably didn’t. So why would Assad & Putin massively drop bombs when they know the majority of those killed will be civilians, including children like little Omran? Is bombing people to smithereens now a form of liberating them from terrorist control?

When did bombing civilians become a form of freedom fighting? Is it to be condemned in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Gaza, & elsewhere, but heralded if the warplanes are Syrian or Russian?

(Photo by Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters)

Many of you may remember the moving posts from Ziaur Rahman about Rohingya refugees. The latest was about the crisis of Rohingya being incarcerated in several countries rather than given asylum. Ziaur is himself a Rohingya refugee in Malaysia who advocates for their human rights.

He is writing a post about Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh being deported back to Myanmar. Incidentally I learned that he hasn’t the resources to buy a computer & has to type his work entirely on his mobile phone.

Perhaps some of you would be willing to help him out to purchase a computer or maybe send him one. If you are interested you can contact him through FB or let me know & I will put you in contact with him.

Obituary for Shimon Peres & the whole gang of 1948: may they rot in hell

Peres et al

Media is calling Shimon Peres the last of “Israel’s founding fathers” but actually, of the 37 people who signed the Proclamation of Independence in 1948 illegally establishing a Jewish-only state in Palestine, two were women. Though active in Haganah, the paramilitary terrorist group, Peres was not among the signers. With the exception of Golda Meir (one of the women signers & a future Israeli politician) & David Ben-Gurion (the first president of Israel) most of the signers are not well-known figures.

What the 37 signers had in common with well-known politicians (like Peres, David Ben-Gurion, Ariel Sharon, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Itzak Shamir, Abba Eban) is that almost all of them are European-born Zionists who emigrated to Palestine to create a Jewish-only state. The few who were not European-born were children of Zionist emigres. Peres was Polish.

Most of that generation or their parents emigrated to Palestine after WWI, when it came under British colonial control. The Zionist movement was becoming influential, was developing financial resources to support emigration, & was conducting diplomatic initiatives with several governments including Britain to get support for a Jewish-only homeland in Palestine.

These zealots were for the most part professional middle-class, secular, & committed to Zionism’s vision of Jews & of social reality. Zionism’s defining character is elitism, a refusal to be assimilated, & most of all a rightwing rejection of the broader struggle against racism & colonialism to instead join forces with colonial powers & work out a deal to the advantage of Jews at the expense of Palestinians.

Some of these figures, like David Ben-Gurion & even Peres for a period, identified as socialist Zionists. In fact, most of the socialist movement then & now, including Jewish activists, reject Zionism. The writings of socialist Zionists are gibberish, almost a parody of socialism. It isn’t entirely clear whether ‘socialist Zionists’ like Ben-Gurion remained sincere but deeply misguided or were cynically manipulating politics to attract working class Jews to Zionism. Some have attributed the kibbutzim to Ben-Gurion’s kind of socialism but they long preceded his tenure as Israel’s preeminent politician & were part of the Zionist settler movement prior to the state of Israel. There’s a lot of rubbish written about Israel’s history. Nevertheless, it was common up until the 1970s for people to consider Israel a socialist country.

Being intent on ethnic cleansing of Palestinians & setting up a Jewish-only state requires a certain psychological makeup. Most of them were part of paramilitary terrorist groups set up to destroy entire villages, massacre thousands of Palestinians, & forcibly expel thousands from their homes & lands. Their tactics were modeled on the violence & mass exterminations of European colonialism & on pogroms against Jews in Russia & Poland. That requires the mentality & pathology of General George Custer, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Henry Kissinger, & other genocidal figures in history. That’s what makes Israeli political history seem like a vipers’ nest of intrigues & what makes most of those founding politicians so detestable, personally & politically.

The obituaries of Peres aren’t as flattering as one would expect. Most of them say he was a schemer, an operator who did his best dirty work in secret, a guy no one in Israel liked or trusted. Some say he was treated like an outsider.That’s what happens when you’re a rat. Or he might just have been antisocial. He became a protege of Ben-Gurion in 1947 in the Haganah & remained an aide & ally to Ben-Gurion for many years which got him many responsible posts in the Israeli government.

Whether his successes were due to competence or sycophancy, from the point of view of solidifying a Jewish state, he has some accomplishments–most of them of a criminal, military, & clandestine nature & often in collusion with Ben-Gurion. Through secret negotiations with France, Peres initiated Israel’s nuclear industry; he promoted the growth of militarized Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank & Gaza after the 1967 war; held secret negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords. Now that he’s croaked, he’s given credit for things he probably didn’t do & not denounced for diplomatic blunders, like the 1956 Suez Crisis where he schemed with Britain & France to oust Egyptian president Gamal Nasser to take control of the Suez Canal.

The Oslo Accords for which Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, & Yasser Arafat won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize are surely one of his most detestable & conniving achievements. The Accords formulate the terms for surrender of Palestinian self-determination & set up the mechanisms to accomplish that. Since Palestinians are resistant to colonialism & ethnic cleansing, the Oslo Accords have led to extremes of Israeli military violence in the West Bank, East Jerusalem & Gaza.

With the death of Peres, the 1948 generation is gone, Their legacy is 68 years of ruthless colonialism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing.There’s a special place in hell for all of them.

In his later years, in the ceremonial post of Israeli president, his role was to pose for photos with visiting celebrities. It was a de rigueur moment for anyone showing solidarity with Israeli colonialism. As Obama prepares to end his tenure as president, Clinton to assume her tenure, & Peres goes to join his fellow founding leaders in hell, let these photos stand as testimony to their conniving colonial legacies..

Can no longer recall who the poet was that described Tony Blair as “a gassy eruption stinking of farts & sulphur.” Don’t know why the poet went so easy on him. It’s too close to flattery for the contemptible Blair.

It is, however, a universal epithet for politicians in the modern era. Can you name even one it doesn’t fit?

Tommie Smith, John Carlos, & Colin Kaepernick: Black athletes protest racism 1968 & 2016

1968 and 2016

These photos are two iconic moments in sports when elite Black athletes took a defiant public stand against racist violence in the US. As the “Star-Spangled Banner” played, the Black power salute was given by Tommie Smith & John Carlos, the gold & bronze medalists in the 200-meter track event at the 1968 Olympics Games in Mexico City. Peter Norman, the Australian silver medalist on the stand with Smith & Carlos, was in solidarity with their protest. (He died in 2006.

Smith & Carlos were both civil rights activists who originally called for a boycott of the 1968 Olympics unless apartheid South Africa & Rhodesia were excluded from the games; Muhammad Ali’s championship boxing title was restored; more Black assistant coaches were hired; & Avery Brundage resigned as head of the International Olympics Committee. When the boycott failed to get support, they decided to participate & to make a political statement.

Avery Brundage, who as an Olympics official in 1936 made no objections to Nazi salutes during the Berlin Olympics, suspended Smith & Carlos from the US team. As a result, Smith & Carlos received death threats & their careers as elite athletes took a big hit. On the other hand, till today, the oppressed around the world hold them in highest esteem.

The second image is football player Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the pre-game “Star-Spangled Banner” to protest racism in the US, particularly police shootings in the Black community. Many other athletes are joining the kneeling protest in solidarity. There’s no question they draw inspiration from the defiance & fearlessness of Smith & Carlos in 1968.

On Wednesday, Obama was asked by CNN about Kaepernick’s anthem protest. He said Kaepernick was “exercising his constitutional right to make a statement” but that he wished Kaepernick & those who joined him would consider the feelings about the American flag & anthem held by US soldiers fighting for our freedoms & “to listen to the pain” of those who have lost someone in combat.

If you interpret Obama, what he is saying is that the misguided patriotism of soldiers who fight racist wars believing they’re fighting for freedom preempts the fury of the Black community for years of violence & undeclared war against them.

Reuters reports that the Olympics Committee is offering Smith & Carlos “a long-awaited moment of redemption” by inviting them to a gala dinner in Washington, DC this weekend to honor the 2016 Olympic team followed by an audience of the team with Obama at the White House. The head of the US Olympics Committee has also asked Smith & Carlos to serve as Olympics ambassadors to bring more diversity & inclusion to the games.

It isn’t “redemption” that this invite is all about since Smith & Carlos have never expressed a moment of contrition for protesting racism & human rights crimes. The invitation to the White House is almost certainly a maneuver. Is it conspiracy thinking to suggest that after 48 years of shunning Smith & Carlos, there is an ulterior motive having to do with discrediting the kneeling protest led by Colin Kaepernick?