The expressions of solidarity with Russia are so moving. Even though they’re nuts. They got this solidarity thing all screwed up. You don’t have it with a repressive, undemocratic government. That’s a fascist thing. Solidarity is with the oppressed, with the Russian people, not with Putin. How do they get that so wrong?

This is truly an anthemic expression of humanity, probably one of the most beautiful ever written–at least to my mind. It was written by a Kashmiri living under military occupation. I’ve posted it a few times & often go back to it when the world seems overwhelming because it reminds me of why it is human beings, against all odds, take the hard road home to freedom:

“indian state despite its grave, unspeakable crimes against us, has not been able to kill our humanity, it has failed to make hatred the defining virtue of our struggle, despite its beastly behaviour we have not turned into beasts, instead we have retained our dignity and ethical fabric, despite being victims of an atrocious war imposed upon us we have maintained our moral compass, the humanitarian gestures like rescuing occupying soldiers even when most of them have been acting like savages is a reflection of who we are and what we aspire to be! In all this lies the biggest defeat of this oppressive state and our greatest victory, it also gives us hope that a free kashmir will not be built upon pathological hatred of the other, but upon the ideals of human fraternity, dignity and brotherhood. Kashmir today even in one of her most painful times has a lot of lessons to offer to Indians and world at large: we are willing to sacrifice our lives to achieve freedom but we won’t lose our morality in the process, we refuse to slip into savagery and hatred despite the cruelest provocations like killing and blinding of our children. As for us, Azaadi is not a mere destination but a means towards a more humane, just and ethical society.”

–Mir Laieeq

Journalists in Kashmir come under military fire on assignment

Kashmiri journalists during gunfight in Helmetpora, Kupwara district Mar 21 2018 (Mohammad Abu Bakar)

If there is any doubt about the dangers of being a journalist, this photo is from a hunt to kill operation these journalists were covering today in Helmetpora village, the Kupwara district of Kashmir. There is a crescendoing campaign to censor authentic journalism, especially on social media, & substitute it with manicured news (also known as propaganda). This is an old debate & there is a time-worn pattern to this, where they start at the extremes like tossing the rabid nationalist Burmese monk Wirathu off FB, or Syrian Girl, or some white supremacist group. But their target in the long run is Kashmiri activists & journalists, Rohingya & Palestinian journalists. Don’t we all love to see those extremist haters kicked in the ass but it’s a short-sighted vision because the censorship is always primarily directed against the forces of social transformation, not the forces of social hatred.

Our deepest respect for these Kashmiri journalists who face not only gunfire but possible arrest.

(Photo by Mohammad Abu Bakar)

On photojournalism coming from Syria

Douma boy being rescued June 16, 2015. (AFP : Sameer Al-doumy)

Just a word about photojournalism coming from Eastern Ghouta & Afrin, Syria: professional propagandists like Bartlett & Beeley focus on images glorifying the Syrian army & obsequious paeans to Assad. When they post photos of civilians, it’s rubbish showing how happy they are to be ‘liberated’ from head-chopping terrorists by the Syrian army. Beeley is a regular cesspool of this stuff. Beside her equestrian skills & aptitude with alternative facts & post-truth truthiness, she knows how to grab a photo op of Syrian soldiers kissing babies.

For most media, it’s just too dangerous to put journalists on the ground in Syria, even if they could get permission from Assad, so they rely on citizen journalists. Agence France Presse (AFP), which had some of the most powerful images of civilians from Aleppo & now from Eastern Ghouta & Afrin, relies on citizen journalists/stringers, most of whom they’ve trained. They receive hundreds of photos of the bombing operations from these citizen journalists who play an essential journalistic role & not just in Syria. Probably in response to Assadist claims that civilians being bombed in Eastern Ghouta are terrorists, human shields for terrorists, actors, or dolls, AFP reports that they carefully vet the veracity of every single photo they receive before it is published. In addition, there are media centers in Aleppo, Ghouta, & elsewhere where professional & citizen journalists report in videos & photos what is happening on the ground to civilians. The White Helmets also have photographers.

The images from bombing civilians are gruesome & only posted to show the criminality of what is going on in order to expose the lies of fascist propagandists & their fellow travelers. We should take a moment to honor the work of those citizen journalists, especially those who have been killed, arrested, or disappeared.

This photo is a boy being rescued by a White Helmet in Douma on June 16, 2015. Douma is in Ghouta, just to show how long carpet bombing has been sustained by civilians.

(Photo by Sameer Al-doumy/AFP)

Russia testing over 200 new types of weapons & bombs on Syrian civilians

Syria Mar 19 2018 (Ameer Alhalbi:AFP) Mar 21 2018

A former Russian air force commander who is now a senior politician in the Duma recently boasted that “As we helped the brotherly Syrian people, we tested over 200 new types of weapons. It’s not an accident that today they are coming to us from many directions to purchase our weapons, including countries that are not our allies. Today our military-industrial complex made our army look in a way we can be proud of.”

So while Russia is bombing Syrian civilians–in a brotherly way, of course–it is using them as test subjects for its thermobaric, laser, TV, & satellite guided, subsonic, & barrel bombs. Meanwhile Tariq Ali is writing that Russia is bombing Syrians “to stem the tide of absolute darkness”; the “retired” CIA, FBI, & Pentagon officials leading the US antiwar movement are writing denunciations of Russiagate & blithering about a new McCarthyism; Rania Khalek, Jeff Mackler, Cindy Sheehan, Vijay Prashad, Ben Norton, Max Blumenthal, Sara Flounders, Brian Becker, & other lowlifes are claiming that Russia is only bombing terrorists–like that was a good thing.

Stand with the Syrian people & demand the immediate cessation of Syrian, Russian, Turkish, & US coalition bombing of civilians & the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Syria.

Photo is Syrians running from the brotherly love of Russian bombs.

(Photo by Amer Alhalbi/AFP)

“Suicide bomber! Not A Terrorist Until Proven Muslim!”

–Documenting Oppression Against Muslims (DOAM) on the man in Austin, Texas, suspected of several bomb explosions, who blew himself up as police closed in on him.

Tariq Ali has risen from the grave like the politically undead to utter a pronouncement on the slaughter of civilians in Syria. Well not quite. In a criticism of the Kurdish alliance with the US coalition, he ends with this sentence: “Russia is in Syria to protect its own interests & military bases. However, sitting here in London I must bow before the judgement of progressive forces in the region as to the supremely exceptional circumstances forcing them to accept Russian support to stem the tide of absolute darkness, unimaginable bloodbaths as well as Israeli, US & Turkish jackboots. The exceptional circumstances of fighting the Nazis comes to mind.” Does a man so confused, so compromised & corrupt, so dead wrong about who represents progressive & who fascist in Syria get to keep his éminence grise status rather than get consigned to irrelevance? Isn’t that carrying sycophancy too damn far?

It does appear that the counterrevolution will be victorious in Syria

Civilians run following Syrian air strike on E. Ghouta Mar 20 (Hamza Al-Ajweh:AFP) Mar 20 2018

It does look like the Syrian revolution will soon be defeated by bombers & foreign armies. The Assad dictatorship rallied the darkest & most reactionary forces in world politics & turned antiwar & socialist activists into fellow travelers of fascism. Defeat will strike a blow at the Palestinian & Kurdish struggles & weaken the struggles for democracy throughout the Middle East which reached their apex in the Arab Spring uprisings of which the Syrian revolution is the last one standing. Defeat will hearten Islamophobes, anti-Semites, white supremacists, & fascists throughout the world. In Syria there will be greater repression, more political prisoners, more wrenching sectarian & religious conflicts, greater impoverishment for working people who are the majority of the Syrian revolution. Neoliberal economics will prevail.

The antiwar movement, in its moribund state, will carry on in its sectarian way, holding lilliputian rallies with Assadist & libertarian speakers sputtering triumphal about defeating US imperialism in Syria & led by self-serving grandstanders like Cindy Sheehan, Ajamu Baraka, Jeff Mackler & the “retired” CIA, FBI, & Pentagon officials leading it now into oblivion. It will be a time to grieve one of the greatest betrayals in modern history. But then we move forward undaunted & committed to rebuilding what has been destroyed by political opportunists, professional propagandists, & dirtballs whose names are legion but will prove forgettable. Because we have no other choice.

The Arab uprisings in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, & Syria, along with the Palestinian, Kashmiri, & Rohingya freedom struggles, show us how much the best of humanity will sacrifice to create a humane, democratic world. It is possible to change the world; that’s not a pipe dream. But we need to learn from what those struggles teach us, including their mistakes, pick ourselves up, dust off any discouragement, & move forward united to rebuild. The lesson to be drawn is not cynicism & defeatism but intransigence against all odds. Those who do not dare, who do not have a vision of humanity’s potential cannot be part of making this world suitable for human beings to live & love in.

Photo is Syrian revolutionists running from Syrian air strikes in Eastern Ghouta. They represent the best of humanity. May those who vilify them as head-chopping terrorists rot in hell.

(Photo by Hamza Al-Ajweh/AFP)