Scene from the occupation of Kashmir: another little boy grown old before his time from witnessing & being traumatized by the constant presence of violence.

This is the third anniversary of the murder of a Kashmiri militant by occupying forces. His name & image cannot be shown on FB without being suspended but his funeral prayers were attended by 600,000 Kashmiris. His murder set off months of massive protests against the occupation which the Indian army countered with extreme violence. By December 2016, 115 Kashmiris, including children were killed; 17,000 were injured, including 7,330 by pellets; 22 young people were totally blinded, 1,255 were partially blinded; 505 women were molested; 65,000 houses, shops, & other structures were damaged; 37 schools were torched; 9,700 people were arrested; 608 were arrested under the Public Safety Act allowing indefinite detention without charges.

This is an insightful article about the 2016 uprising written in November 2016 by Kashmiri writer Mirza Waheed:

End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

(Photo by Basit Zargar)

Lest we forget the nearly 18-year US-NATO occupation of Afghanistan which has created millions of war refugees denied asylum in Europe; nearly two decades of carpet bombing cities, mosques, fields, homes, schools, hospitals; created millions of displaced & homeless Afghans; caused thousands of injuries & amputations from land mine explosions; included the torture & executions of thousands of detainees who end up buried in mass graves: this is a little Afghan boy who was injured but was one of those who survived US-NATO bombing.

Demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US-NATO forces from Afghanistan & the payment of reparations for the destruction wrought on the Afghan people.

(Photo is from 2016 by Lynsey Addario)

At first, it seems perplexing that Stalinists & Assadists are making the defense of Julian Assange the very centerpiece of their political campaigning, even prioritizing it over war, occupation, genocide. In the political tradition I come from, war, occupation, & genocide are always the preeminent political issues, bar none. Censorship of journalism is directly related to them so campaigning for freedom of the press is incorporated into antiwar & solidarity work & does not drown them out of existence.

As important as the Assange case is, there is an element & a strong element of white supremacy where the victimization of a white journalist preempts & excludes any campaigning around the hundreds of journalists, including citizen journalists, from places like Iraq, Syria, Burma, Afghanistan, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, India, Yemen, Sudan, Brazil, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Israel, Egypt, who are arrested, disappeared, tortured, murdered by repressive regimes. Saying that does not negate the importance of defending Assange, no matter how detestable he is, but highlights that his case is only one of hundreds of journalists who are sitting in prisons, being tortured, or are dead because of their work. It has never been explained what makes his case special over the entire network of Rohingya citizen journalists who were disappeared during the genocidal siege of 2017, that of Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan who was arrested for sedition in August 2018 & is also suffering health problems in prison, that of Palestinian journalists shot at by Israeli snipers, or that of Mexican journalists hunted down like animals & forced to flee into exile.

Probably the main reason Stalinists & Assadists are so ardent about Assange is less about freedom of the press & more that his conspiratorial politics obfuscate the distinctions between journalism & propaganda–distinctions they want to obscure in order to discredit journalism, legitimize propaganda, & peddle lies as realities. It was once called the ‘Stalinist school of falsification.’ It is now their use of ‘war on terror’ ideology rooted in Islamophobia that justifies wars, especially Syrian & Russian bombing in Syria, & denies genocides like that of the Uyghur, Rohingya, & Moro Muslims.

This is a photo of Kashmiri Aasif Sultan being arrested by Indian occupying forces in August 2018. He is still in jail & there is presently no international campaign to release him.

(Photo from many Kashmiri sources)

Marc Nelson, the artist who drew this sketch from an eyewitness photo of a Syrian infant, wrote : “My friend Amer Abboush asks: “Is there a new weapon someone wants to try on the bodies of our children?” As the Nazis tested their bombs on Guernica, Russia tests their weapons on Syrian civilians.”

Stop the bombing of Idlib. They are civilians, not terrorists.

(Drawing my Marc Nelson on Twitter)

This is a farmer in Idlib whose fields are being targeted by Syrian & Russian war planes in a scorched earth bombing campaign now in its third month. He is not a terrorist. Yet the corrupted US antiwar group United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) issued a statement equating the Syrian Arab Spring uprising in Idlib in 2011 with terrorists, claiming Idlib is now a major enclave of terrorists & is governed by al Qaeda, & that all civilians, specifically Christians, had long ago been driven out.

The UNAC statement defends Russian & Syrian military intervention in Idlib & denies their use of chemical weapons but does not address the use of barrel bombs, carpet bombing, or Russia’s claim that it is testing out new advanced weaponry in Syria. Instead, the statement blames US & Israeli military intervention in Syria for the carnage in Idlib. The US & Israel have monstrous war crimes to account for in Syria & their military intervention should be denounced & opposed. But in the present bombing siege of Idlib, it is Syria, Russia, & Iran who must be denounced rather than supported so ardently by UNAC.

All of the UNAC statement reads as though it came from the Assad regime, from propagandists Eva Bartlett & Vanessa Beeley, or from one of the other far-right ideologues, like Kevork Almassian, who support the Assad dictatorship. Syria isn’t the first time in history that antiwar activists & socialists have supported war or opposed revolution against dictatorship but it may be the first time they did so with such utter sycophancy to dictatorship & marching lockstep with the fascist right, & with Islamophobes & anti-Semites.

Stop the bombing of Idlib. They are children, old women, young mothers, farmers, nurses, doctors, plumbers, laborers, teachers, electricians, unemployed. They are not terrorists.

Shameful statement by UNAC on Idlib:

(Sketch of farmer receiving medical care from an eyewitness photo by Marc Nelson on Twitter)

US refugee policy: a mother fords the Rio Grande River with her frightened child at Juarez across from El Paso, Texas.

“No one puts their children in a river or ocean unless the water is safer than the land”

(Photo from AP)

Just as they campaign for the Assad dictatorship using ‘war on terror’ rhetoric, Max Blumenthal & Ben Norton continue their campaign defending the Chinese government from charges of genocide against Uyghur Muslims. Norton just tweeted another denial of the genocide & claimed “the US, Europe, & Turkey want to break Xinjiang away from China & turn it into a colonial rump state to weaken Beijing.”

In their defense of repressive regimes, their justifications for war & genocide, their denunciations of popular protests demanding democracy, Blumenthal & Norton long ago began a move to the far right of Islamophobia & anti-Semitism & are at this point indistinguishable from it.

Images of children buried in cement rubble, killed, or injured in Syrian & Russian scorched earth bombing of Idlib are so disturbing that in respect to the children more are showing sketches rather than the photos.

They are children, not terrorists. Stop the bombing of Idlib.

(Sketch from an eyewitness photo by artist Marc Nelson on Twitter)