Solidarity with Kashmiris means standing with them for the duration of the siege

It’s possible that after nearly nine weeks of almost daily posts about the siege in Kashmir some are thinking ‘Enough already, there are other places in the world. After all, there’s bombing in Syria & wars in several other countries & Israel is firing artillery shells into Gaza from tanks along the apartheid barrier.’

You don’t have to be Kashmiri to think the current military siege against Kashmiri self-determination (which has killed 77 people; injured between 8,000 & 10,000 people, including 664 with pellet injuries to the eyes; permanently disfigured & injured the health of hundreds; disabled & partially or totally blinded hundreds) is one of the most important things going on in the world today. Enough attention cannot be given to it, let alone too much.

Standing with Kashmiris through the duration of this monstrous siege; helping Kashmiri activists get the truth out on social media when there are only lies & silence in mainstream media; trying to broaden & strengthen international solidarity & build solidarity rallies are all the elementary commitments of solidarity. That’s just the way it is.

Not all facial & eye injuries in Kashmir are from pellet guns

Injured Kashmiri woman (twitter of Basit Zargar) Sept 7 2016

Not all Kashmiris sustaining injuries & disfigurement to the face & eyes were struck by pellet guns.

According to Basit Zargar, this woman in a Srinagar hospital was struck by a tear gas grenade at a protest yesterday.

We are more than familiar with the harm done by tear gas shells, including fatalities, since many Palestinians & Kashmiris have been injured & killed by them when struck in the head or chest.

End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

(Thank you for Basit Zargar for sharing this photo)

Not all the victims of military violence are young; nor are they all protesters

Abdul Gani Wani,70 (victim 77 in Kashmir (from Kashmir Life) Sept 7 2016

Not all the victims of military violence in Kashmir are young. Nor are they all protesters.

This is 70-year-old Abdul Gani Wani who died today from cardiac arrest after the occupying army exploded a loud shell to disperse protesters in his area. He is the 77th fatality on the 60th day of the siege.

May he Rest In Peace.

End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

(Photo is from Kashmir Life)

Not all the victims of military violence in Kashmir are male; nor are the protesters

Sept 7 2016

Not all of the victims of military violence in Kashmir are male. Sexual assault & mass rapes are among the weapons employed by the occupying army. Women are widowed or left bereft when their children are injured, disabled, or killed, when their sons, brothers, spouses are killed, tortured, or disappeared.

Neither are all the protesters against the occupation male. Women founded & lead the militant Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), often lead protests in Kashmir, & are among those demonstrating against the occupation.

End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

(These photos of Kashmiri protesters are by Basit Zargar)

A tribute to anti-colonial fighters from Kashmir & Palestine to North Dakota

Kashmiri protesters in masks (REUTERS:Danish Ismail) Sept 7 2016

These young people are at a protest in Srinagar. The masks are unlikely to protect them from any of the several weapons used against them except perhaps tear gas fumes.
Colonial history in India put these youth in a very tough place in politics–to be on the front lines of struggle against every vestige of colonial heritage. It is a struggle that prevails in one form or another on every continent.

What’s remarkable is that Kashmiris, Palestinians, & colonized Indigenous peoples on every continent resist for decades, even centuries, & will not bend the knee to tyranny. There are periods of exhaustion & demoralization but they will not be defeated.

We should take a moment to honor these young fighters in Kashmir, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Brazil, India, Peru, Mexico, Somalia, South Africa, Canada, North Dakota, Colorado, & so many other places. They are the hope of human liberation from inequality & racism. International solidarity that is active & intransigent is of the essence.

(Photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters)

An anti-obituary for Phyllis Schlafly

Schlafly Sept 6 2016

Suppose a feminist of my generation ought to say something when Phyllis Schlafly croaks. She was my mother’s generation & a co-thinker; both were constitutionally conservative. Nurtured in the McCarthy era of the 1950s, they were both ardently & irrationally hateful toward communism & saw communist conspirators & infiltrators behind every social evil, even fluoride in the municipal water supply.

The issue that prepossessed Schlafly was opposition to women’s rights, especially reproductive rights. The animosity, in my opinion, was not driven by theology so much as by a profound hatred for women, a competitive disrespect, an adherence to misogynist notions about women that prevailed in the 1950s–obedient, infantile, high-pitched, baby-talking domestics.

Schlafly is attributed with almost singlehandedly defeating the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) which is a complete misreading of the history. The women’s movement during the ERA campaign had already been preempted by the Democratic Party & the strategy employed to campaign for the ERA was elitist & primarily electoral, i.e., electing candidates who claimed they supported it rather than mobilizing an independent movement to fight for the ERA. That failed strategy, not Schlafly was the downfall of the ERA.

Schlafly has often been called out for the hypocrisy of her life: campaigning for women to be nothing but wives & mothers but herself a lawyer, an activist in the Republican Party, a founder of rightwing groups, an activist on several rightwing, hateful causes who spent her entire life touring the country campaigning while a housekeeper attended to her six kids.

Media calls her a “towering social conservative character” but she was a crank, a rightwing ideologue who peddled stupidity, racism, misogyny, & every other social hatred until the day she died. She reflected the rancidity of the McCarthy era that lingered in the 1960s like a bad hangover & played a part in the backlash against the civil rights, women’s, LGBT, & antiwar movements.

She just endorsed Trump but she shared many political affinities with Clinton & would probably have endorsed her if she weren’t a woman.

May she fry in the nether regions a while before she RIPs.

Emancipation US-style: millions of unexploded ordnance in Laos

Leg protheses in Laos (Mast Irham:EPA) Sept 6 2016

Emancipation US-style: these leg prostheses are on display at the
Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) Center in Vientiane, Laos. The COPE facility is similar to the prosthetic clinic in Kabul, Afghanistan where hundreds are admitted monthly for amputations sustained in US bombing & from the millions of land mines all over the urban & rural landscape going back to the Soviet occupation.

The Vietnam War (1955 to 1975), involved US military intervention & bombing in Laos & Cambodia. During the secret military operation in Laos between 1964 & 1975, it is estimated US bombers flew 580,000 bombing missions & dropped between 270 million & 300 million cluster bombs–or about 2.5 million tons of munitions just in Laos.

It is estimated that one-third of nearly 300 million cluster bombs failed to detonate, leaving Laos contaminated with millions of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Since 1975, more than 20,000 people have been killed or injured by UXO explosions in Laos. Sixty-percent of the incidents resulted in death, 40-percent of them children.

The US Pentagon spent $13.3 million (in 2013 dollars) every day for nine years bombing Laos but between 1993 & 2016 estimated US contributions for UXO clearance range between $2.5 million & $5 million per year. The discrepancy amounts to several billion dollars between the cost of dropping bombs & the cost of clearing them after the war.

The abysmal situation of unexploded ordnance prevails in Vietnam (along with Agent Orange & napalm contamination which still contribute to debilitating & disfiguring birth defects), in Cambodia, & of course in several other countries.

The UXO catastrophe in Laos is making TV & print news probably because Laos is hosting ASEAN Summits this week–as if diplomacy can defy the legacy of war.

(Photo by Mast Irham/EPA)

Indian military never intended to stop use of pellet munitions in Kashmir

Jackboots in Kashmir (from Twitter)

It turns out the Indian army never intended to stop the use of pellet munitions in Kashmir. On August 15th, army officials recommended to a government panel that pellet guns be replaced with less lethal options like PAVA grenades which they euphemistically call chill shells. They didn’t make that recommendation because they were disturbed by the number of teens & small children disfigured, disabled, & blinded by pellet guns. That’s exactly what recommends those weapons to the Indian army.

The Indian army made that recommendation in response to a July 25th legal action in the Jammu & Kashmir High Court when a division bench of the court criticized the use of pellet weapons as unjustified & asked the Indian government to review their use. A division bench in the Indian legal system is a hearing by at least two judges in preparation for possible adjudication before the full court.

On July 30th, just after the division bench action by the J & K High Court, the Kashmir High Court Bar Association filed a Public-Interest Litigation (PIL) asking the court to ban the use of pellet guns in Kashmir.

The August 15th recommendation by Indian army officials that pellet guns be replaced was a public relations stunt, an end-run maneuver against the court action. We know that because five days later, on August 20th, the Indian army filed an affidavit in response to the PIL claiming pellet munitions were necessary in “extreme situations” or the army would have no recourse but to open fire with live ammunition which would cause more fatalities. India has been using live ammunition against unarmed protesters for decades. If they thought they could replace pellet guns with live ammunition, they would not hesitate. The advantage of pellets to the Indian army is that victims are not fatalities but only disfigured & disabled, which is much easier for international media to justify.

According to the Indian army, standard operating procedure (SOP) for using weapons against unarmed protesters is to fire below the waist. But they argue the situation in Kashmir is so volatile they’ve been forced to aim above the waist. Of course, when they aim above the waist, it is to disfigure protesters & includes the faces & eyes to disable & blind permanently so as to behead Kashmiri resistance to occupation. But to expose how insane this entire discussion about pellet munitions is, we should ask how incapacitating a person’s legs or damaging or shooting off their genitals can be considered acceptable military procedure when in civilized societies it is called barbarism? Is the CIA torture manual now setting the standards for military procedure?

Indian army officials cry crocodile tears over the soldiers struck & injured by rocks. Just like Israeli soldiers do. Do they really want to make jackasses of themselves before the world by arguing that rocks are equal to tanks & armored vehicles, sniper rifles, submachine guns, pellet guns, truncheons, tear gas & sound grenades? Tell the soldiers to call home to mama for consolation. It won’t be forthcoming from anyone with half a brain or not deranged by nationalism.

What makes the situation in Kashmir so volatile is the presence of 700,000 Indian troops armed to the teeth with every kind of lethal & so-called non-lethal weapon against defenseless protesters. That is a ratio of one soldier to every Kashmiri man, woman, & child.

On this 59th day of the siege, 74 Kashmiris have been killed, between 8,000 & 10,000 have been injured, 700, including mostly teenagers but also small children, have been struck in the face & eyes with pellet guns & at least 60 of those completely blinded.

End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

(Photo of Indian jackboots in Kashmir from Twitter)