It’s one thing for Kashmiri independence leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq & other Kashmiris to address the issue of drug addiction among Kashmiri youth because they care about their kids. But it’s quite another for nationalist Indian media to write about it. A recent article from NDTV (Indian media) claimed drug trafficking in Kashmir is a way to finance terrorism which is how they portray all opposition to occupation.

I don’t know anything about drug addiction & trafficking in Kashmir. But I do know plenty about drug trafficking in the US & I suspect some of the same political forces are at play. In the US, there is irrefutable documentation that the CIA is up to its eyeballs in international drug trafficking, that its operatives introduced crack cocaine into the Black community, & that drug addiction among oppressed youth serves the forces of oppression. If drug addiction is a problem among Kashmiri kids, it would be less likely that it is used to bankroll terrorists than it is that the Indian government, through its occupying army, is involved in trafficking in Kashmir. The response among the rest of us should be to more actively build solidarity with the Kashmiri freedom struggle so that young people have something to live for & do not feel demoralization & despair from colonialism & occupation.

It’s striking how many women play a leading role in beating the drums for the Assad dictatorship. Cindy Sheehan is among them & though her grandstanding politics are more narcissistic than social & political, it is regrettable that she has become an out & out elitist & Assadist. Being the grieving mother of a US soldier who died in Iraq does not give her the right to justify the slaughter of men, women, & children in Syria.

Sheehan has a deeply conservative politics which manifested in her ridicule of the hundreds of thousands of young people who protested Trump’s election. She actually vociferously supported Trump against those protesters. Her most obscene opposition was ridicule of the Women’s Marches in 2017, 2018, & 2019 calling them ‘pussy parades’ though they drew millions of women on every continent raising countless issues of social, political, & economic concern. Perhaps it was because she wasn’t asked to speak, perhaps it’s because her feminism isn’t up to snuff, but she has been relentless in criticism, mockery & misrepresenting those protests of millions of women.

To make herself what the antiwar movement is all about, she called a March on the Pentagon last October publicly & repeatedly counterposing it to the Women’s March. Because she has never been a movement builder, she purposely excluded all liberals. Anyone involved in movement politics knows that liberals have always been the majority of antiwar protesters & the primary financial force sustaining the movement. A democratic antiwar movement excludes no one. What Sheehan did was to crown herself queen of the antiwar movement & give the March on the Pentagon an Assadist agenda. Of the few hundred who actually showed up & spoke, most were notable Assadist figures like Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, & Mint Press.

Sheehan has again called a March on the Pentagon for October of this year. Every single person on the executive & advisory boards is a notable Assadist, including Ann Wright (the ‘retired’ Pentagon official), Mnar Muhawesh (editor of Assadist Mint Press), Don DeBar, Madelyn Hoffman (who was on the Stalinist delegation to Assad), Heather Cottin, now deceased Bruce Dixon, & several others. It’s likely to be even smaller & more exclusionary than last year. No self-respecting & principled antiwar activist of any political persuasion would touch this thing with a ten-foot pole when those figures non-stop justify the bombing of civilians in Syria as defense of the Assad dictatorship’s right to self-determination.

Sheehan was not politically knowledgeable when she entered politics, was turned into an overnight celebrity, & was badly miseducated & manipulated. She has to overcome that celebrity thing & realize she is part of an international movement, not the star of her own show. She has to reject Assadism & denounce Syrian, Russian, & US-coalition bombing of civilians in Syria.

(Photo is screenshot of Sheehan justifying her own parade)

There is nothing we can say to this little girl who survived Russian barrel bombing of Maarat al-Numan, Idlib that will comfort her or make her whole again. Can we say it’s not our fault that there was no antiwar movement to stand with the Syrian Arab Spring? Will it lessen her trauma & losses if we tell her we will rebuild a principled antiwar movement? Will she find it in her heart to forgive the dictatorship, its military allies, propagandists & guppies who called her a ‘Salafi-jihadi terrorist’? Or to forgive those of us who tried but failed to build a movement opposing the bombing of civilians by Syria, Russia, & the US-coalition including Israel?

Idlib is a watershed moment in human history, especially in antiwar history. It is part of our times that Islamophobic ‘war on terror’ ideology was adopted by the leading figures of the left like Tariq Ali & Chomsky & most of the antiwar & socialist movements, making them in league & indistinguishable from fascists. Those fighting popular struggles against dictatorship & repression are now maligned as terrorists by this so-called left when all along they were freedom fighters & little kids who just wanted to play.

Our sincere apologies to this little girl even if all apologies are pointless to her.

(Photo from reliable Syrian sources on Twitter)

This tiny child is either Batoul or Ahmad, the only members of their family who survived the bombing of their home in Idlib. Their mom, dad, & newborn infant brother were killed. This little one probably hasn’t learned to talk yet so Assad officials will never be able to interrogate him to find out which ‘al-Qaeda affiliated Salafi-jihadi terrorist’ group he commanded. The corrupted antiwar & socialist movements have not uttered one peep of protest at the slaughter in Idlib because, citing from Stalin’s collected works–or is it Madeleine Albright in justifying the bombing of Iraq?–they consider this child’s unimaginable suffering as “worth it” to defend the Assad dictatorship’s right to self-determination.

Stop the bombing of Idlib. All foreign military forces & mercenaries out of Syria.

(Photo from several reliable Syrian sources on Twitter)

Apologies for the gruesome image, but this is how small children look after they’ve been recovered from the rubble of Syrian & Russian barrel & incendiary bombing in Idlib. While the corrupted antiwar & socialist movements drag out quotes from Stalin to justify this slaughter, while Assad propagandists mock these children as ‘crisis actors’ in a staged scenario, thousands of little kids suffer the unimaginable trauma of war, many die, & many survive with incapacitating physical & psychological injuries.

Those who stand for human rights demand the immediate, unconditional cessation of Syrian & Russian bombing in Idlib & the immediate unconditional withdrawal of all foreign military forces & mercenaries from Syria.

May this innocent child Rest In Peace.

(Photo from Syrian journalist Fareed Al)

One doesn’t know whether to celebrate, to cry, or to be furious at the acquittal of six Kashmiri men & the release of five of them from an Indian prison after serving 23 years for a crime they did not commit. They were charged without evidence for multiple cases but were serving life without parole for planting a bomb on a bus near Samleti in the state of Rajasthan, India in May 1996. Fourteen people were killed & 39 injured in that bomb blast. They were acquitted Monday & released Tuesday when the prosecution could not produce any evidence of their involvement. What’s not clear from media reports is why the original charges filed in 1996 took 23 years to prosecute. We can only assume this miscarriage of justice, which stole the youth of several young men, is due solely to their being Kashmiris where Indian jurisprudence makes a mockery of justice.

Five of the released men, now in their forties & fifties, are Latif Ahmed Baja, Ali Bhatt, Mirza Nisar, Abdul Goni, Rayees Beg. The sixth person, Javed Khan, was acquitted in the Samleti bombing but remains in Tihar jail (where Kashmiri freedom fighter Maqbool Bhat was hung in 1984) still facing charges in another bomb case & probably with as little evidence. Although they did not know each other when arrested & it’s not certain were even political activists, the Indian government accused them of being associated with the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which was banned in March 2019 as a terrorist group–probably with as little evidence as they had for framing up these young men.

It must be extremely disorienting for the men after so many years in prison. Not only have they lost the memories of when members of their families died, married, been born, but the world has changed with cellphones, the internet, social media. Hopefully, when they recoup their psychic energies from being warmly received in Kashmir by family & friends, they will be able to tell their stories so that we can understand the character of Indian injustice in the incarceration, torture, indefinite detainment without charges, disappearance of thousands of Kashmiris whether or not they are involved in political resistance.

Welcome home to our Kashmiri brothers. May your transition be made smooth. Kashmir remains under occupation, so it will not be a transition to freedom yet.

(Photo is the five men released Tuesday)