Had to repel a brief infestation of Assadists who are indistinguishable from the criminally deranged or swarming locusts. One called me a “terrorist whore”, another called for rounding up all the ‘jihadis’ in Idlib for a mass beheading, & another said ‘jihadis’ are cannibals who eat the fresh hearts of old men, women, & children. They’ve been listening too much to Bartlett & Beeley, Fares Shehabi, & Kevork Almassian. It’s one thing when the certifiably deranged repeat the crazy-ass stuff of Assad propagandists but it’s another when Tariq Ali, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, & other éminences grises do too. If we’ve learned one thing from this travesty of betrayal, it is never to defer judgement to prestige. Always study politics & do your own thinking based on principles.

Many have expressed outrage that Trump is pardoning war criminals who engaged in monstrous violence against Afghans & Iraqis while his officials are prosecuting humanitarians like Scott Warren who faces 20 years in jail for providing water, food, clean clothes & beds to two refugees crossing the desert in Arizona.

This is the head X-ray of 24-year-old Danish Rajab who was pummeled with pellet munitions in July 2016 as he sat chatting with friends in a tea stall near his home. Pellet guns fire more than 500 sharp lead pellets at high velocity. Even a single pellet entering the eye at high speed can cause serious & irreversible damage. At least 100 pellets are still lodged in his eyes, face, & head & doctors say the procedure to remove them would put his life at grave risk. He can feel the pellets when he touches his head.

At the time of his injuries, Danish worked for a company in Srinagar selling dairy products. The pellet munitions did so much damage that his left eye had to be removed entirely & he can only see faint shadows from his right eye. He’s still a young guy, only 27-years-old today, & India has no social security protections. His father cannot provide for him since he lost his own job as a laborer due to health problems. Danish of course had a very difficult time coming to terms with his disability & isolated himself. His family & friends are all affected by his demoralization.

End the use of pellet guns in Kashmir. End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

(Photo from Zachary Rabeh/Agence Le Journal/Al Jazeera)

This is an X-ray taken at the ICU hospital in Srinagar in July, 2016 of 14-year-old Insha Malik, the little girl who was inside her family home when Indian soldiers bombarded her with pellet munitions. Media followed little Insha, the secondary brain infection she got from lead pellets, the extreme pain she endured, the trauma to herself & her family. She is a studious girl who wanted to be a doctor when she grew up but now will have to revisit all her dreams. According to doctors, she has zero chances of regaining her vision in either eye.

End the use of pellet guns in Kashmir. End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

(Photo by Tauseef Mustafa/AFP)

Will Assad propagandists claim that these children killed by Syrian & Russian bombing in the siege of Idlib, Hama, & Aleppo are ‘jihadi terrorists’? Can they identify for us which terrorist cells they belonged to? Will they brush off this documentation of Syrian & Russian war crimes by calling these children “crisis actors” trained to play dead on demand, as they did in Ghouta, Aleppo, & elsewhere? Will erstwhile socialists & progressives continue to betray every political principle by trailing after Assad’s coterie of Leni Riefenstahls & denouncing the White Helmets as terrorists engaged in organ trafficking? Have they no shame left but to align with fascists against the Syrian Arab Spring uprising & cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians?

(Photos from Macro Media Center)

So whilst Assad propagandists denounce them as organ traffickers, the White Helmets continue to risk their lives rescuing people from the rubble of the murderous Syrian & Russian bombing siege of the Idlib, Hama, & Aleppo provinces. Just hours ago, White Helmet rescuers responded to bombing in 39 towns & villages targeted by 75 bombing strikes, 43 explosive barrel bombs, & at least 565 shells & missiles.

Assadists claim Syria & Russia are only bombing ‘jihadi terrorists’ but they don’t explain why nearly a quarter of a million civilians have been forcibly displaced, how bombers engaged in carpet bombing can miss hundreds of thousands of civilians, or why family homes, markets, schools, hospitals, & farm fields are being bombed to take out terrorists. To documentation of civilian deaths, like this photo, Assadists shout “crisis actors” & erstwhile socialists & progressives drool in admiration for the ‘independent journalism’ of Bartlett & Beeley, the Leni Riefenstahls of the Assad dictatorship.

All along, the only principled demands are the immediate cessation of Syrian, Russian, & US-coalition bombing in Syria & the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Syria.

(Photo from White Helmets)

There are so many photos of pellet gun victims that show the abject savagery of using such a weapon against human beings or other animals, for that matter. Many of the protesters pummeled with pellets are working class kids unable to afford the extensive surgery & rehabilitation required so they’re forced to live with lead pellets embedded in their internal organs, with the disfigurement involved, with lifelong pain & health problems, with disability like partial or full blindness. They suffer life-changing injuries.

This photo is then 16-year-old Mohammad Imran Parray injured in the massive protests which erupted all over Kashmir in July 2016 after the killing of Burhan Wani. His injuries, at least to his eyes, do not appear to be as severe as many others sustain but it must be very difficult emotionally for a young guy to live with facial & bodily disfigurement–especially when you consider what young people go through just over pimples. What’s powerful about this picture is how it captures the melancholy of a young guy now forced to live with lead pellets embedded in his tissues, some of which cannot be extracted, & with self-consciousness about the injuries.

It’s come to a time when human rights supporters around the world have to respond to the use of pellet guns against Kashmiris. We have to think out the political & organizational forms required to internationally oppose pellet munitions as well as ways to help finance the working class kids who need surgery & rehab services. Such solidarity could have a considerable impact by educating about the character of the Kashmiri freedom struggle & the barbaric character of the military occupation.

(Photo from AP)

This painting by Rollie Mukherjee titled “Kashmir” could be a tribute to baby Heeba Nisar, the youngest pellet victim, & her mom Marsala. Or it could be a tribute to all the children & young protesters so monstrously subjected to the barbarism of pellets. Rollie, who is an Indian artist, uses her wonderful art to inform others around the world about the freedom struggle in Kashmir. We have to respond by thinking out the political & organizational forms to stand with Kashmiris in opposing the use of pellet guns against unarmed protesters or for any reason whatsoever in Kashmir.