Monday, August 10, 2015

Declaration to the Peoples of Turkey and the World, Signed by 232 Academics in Turkey

Source: August 9, 2015
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Kurds celebrate Newroz in 2013, on the eve of a PKK ceasefire
Kurds celebrate Newroz in 2013, on the eve of a PKK ceasefire
Declaration to the Peoples of Turkey and the world,
Like many people in Turkey, we, as academics, were emboldened by the peace/solution process between the Turkish state and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) officially initiated in January 2013, hoping for a new era that would end the conflicts continuing for over 30 years in Turkey. We have repeatedly stated, especially in our works on Turkey’s history, economy and social relations, that the conflict has affected every aspect of Turkey, turned people into enemies, and increased inequality, discrimination and violence. We have been of the opinion that Turkey was finally going to have a chance to face its truths, democratize and heal its wounds.

We have supported every stage of the solution process between 2013 and 2015. We have stated that the creation of a Wise People’s Committee,[1] the Dolmabahçe Agreement[2] and that enactment of a new law by the Parliament regarding the solution process[3] were positive measures. However, the comparative studies we have undertaken on the ongoing peace processes across the world have shown us that these are not sufficient measures and that the process needs to be supported with various monitoring committees and, as in the case of Mandela, the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan,[4] one of the leading actors of the process, should be lifted. We have noted that the process should not be exploited for the purposes of foreign or domestic policies. We have also stated that deep-seated hostility against the Kurds in Turkey could only end by establishing a Truth Commission and by revealing the tragedies of the past as well as those who are responsible of them.[5]
At the current state of affairs, we regret to see that that the government did not make any arrangements to guarantee the stability of the peace process, and that there are no independent civil institutions to advise and evaluate the sides so that the public can be informed and transparency can be maintained. As of today, it is unfortunate for us to witness that the process is reduced to a tool regarding inter-party competition. The policies concerning Syria, Iraq and Iran have also created an environment where the war has resumed.
It is also unfortunate that despite the warnings of academics, NGOs, responsible politicians and reporters, no steps were taken to prevent the contagious civil war in the Middle East from affecting Turkey. On the contrary Turkey is being rapidly dragged to war.
Tens of peace processes across the world have shown us that the losses are much higher when people take up arms again and that the solution comes only if new democratic spheres are opened. In the last year, we have lost our students in Kobani and Suruç. Only in this past week, we have lost many other young people to the resumed conflict between the state and PKK.
It should be known well that we will never sacrifice our children, our students and none of our youngsters for war. For us, not a single disagreement is more important than their lives and the future they will build.
We invite all parties to a consolidated ceasefire immediately. We ask the government to abandon the language that cause discrimination, hostility and conflict; the responsible reporters to disclose their colleagues that provoke the war; and the parliament to pass laws that will guarantee the continuation of the peace process immediately.
The truth does not develop under conditions of war and today Turkey needs the truth before anything else.
We are declaring to the public: There is only one lesson that the young people can derive from our writings, statements, and lectures and it is that their lives matter and the country will not survive unless they are alive. The core message of the work we do will be that war budgets are compensated by our taxes and that it is the poor who lose their lives in a war. Our philosophy as academics is that nobody has the right to oppress and insult others. Nobody can prevent others from exercising their right to free speech. Our work is concerned with teaching young people to protect themselves from the poisonous feeling of revenge, continue to seek their rights, defend truth against lies and never be discouraged from democratic discourses and actions.
We, as 232 academics who’ve undersigned this statement, invite all academics, teachers, producers and consumers of knowledge, women and men to raise their voice and be a part of democracy and truth.


Abdullah Sessiz, Prof, Dicle University
Ahmet Altınel, Assist Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Ahmet Hilal, Prof, Çukurova University
Ahmet Özdemir Aktan, Prof, Marmara University
Ahmet Uhri, Assist Prof, Dokuz Eylül University
Ali Akay, Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Ali İhsan Ökten, Assoc Prof, Adana
Ali Kerem Saysel, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Alper Açık, Dr, Özyeğin University
Aslı Aydemir, Instructor, İstanbul University
Aslı Davas, Assoc Prof Ege University
Aslı Odman, Instructor, Mimar Sinan University
Aslı Takanay, ABD, Boğaziçi University
Atilla Güney, Prof, Mersin University
Aydın Müftüoğlu, Assist Prof, Ege University
Ayfer Bartu Candan, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Ayla Zırh Gürsoy, Prof, Marmara University
Ayşe Berkman, Prof, Marmara University
Ayşe Durakbaşa, Prof, Marmara University
Ayşe Erzan, Prof, İstanbul Teknik University
Ayşe Gözen, Prof, Ondokuz Mayıs University
Ayşe Öncü, Emeritus, Sabancı University
Ayşegül Kanbak, Assist Prof, Batman University
Ayşen Candaş, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Ayşen Uysal, Prof, Dokuz Eylül University
Ayten Alkan, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Ayten Zara, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Bahar Oral, Res Assist, Çankaya University
Başak Can, Assist Prof, Koç University
Bediz Yılmaz, Assist Prof, Mersin University
Begüm Özden Fırat, Assist Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Berivan Gökçenay, Yıldız Teknik University
Betigül Öngen, Prof, İstanbul University
Biray Kolluoğlu, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Biriz Berksony, Dr, İstanbul University
Birol Caymaz, Assoc Prof, Galatasaray University
Buket Türkmen, Assoc Prof, Galatasaray University
Burak Üzümkesici, Res Assist, İstanbul University
Burcu Yakut-Çakar, Assoc Prof, Kocaeli University
Burhanettin Kaya, Assoc Prof, Gazi University
Bülent Bilmez, Assoc Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Bülent Duru, Assoc Prof, Ankara University
Bülent Küçük, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Can Candan, Dr, Boğaziçi University
Cem Özatalay, Assoc Prof, Galatasaray University
Cenap Özel, Prof, Dokuz Eylül University
Ceren Özselçuk, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Cesim Çelik, Assist Prof, Abant İzzet Baysal University
Ceyda Arslan, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Chris Stepehnson, Instructor, İstanbul Bilgi University
Cuma Çiçer, Assist Prof, Mardin Artuklu University
Çağın Tanrıverdi, Ar. Gör, Trakya University
Çağla Aykaç, Assist Prof, Fatih University
Çiler Çilingiroğlu, Assoc Prof, Ege University
Deniz Yonucu, Dr, LSE University
Derya Özkan, Dr, Münih University
Didem Danış, Assoc Prof, Galatasaray University
Dilek Hattatoğlu, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Düzgün Çakırca, Assist Prof, Batman University
Elçin Aktoprak, Assist Prof, Ankara University
Ebru Aykut, Assist Prof. Dr, Mimar Sinan University
Elif Babül, Assist Prof, Mount Holyoke University
Elif Göcek, Assist Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Emine Meşe, Prof, Dicle University
Emrah Dönmez, Instructor, Işık University
Engin Sustam, Assist Prof, Arel University
Erdem Yörük, Assist Prof, Koç University
Ergin Bulut, Assist Prof, Koç University
Erhan Keleşoğlu, Assist Prof, İstanbul University
Ertan Yılmaz, Prof, Akdeniz University
Erol Köroğlu, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Esra Mungan, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Fatih Altuğ, Assist Prof, İstanbul Şehir University
Fatma Gök, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Ferhat Kentel, Prof, İstanbul Şehir University
Feride Aksu Tanık, Prof, Ege University
Ferruh Akay, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Feryal Saygılıgil, Assist Prof, Arel Üniveristesi
Figen Binbay, Assist Prof, Dicle University
Figen Işık, Instructor, Orta Doğu Teknik University
Fikret Uyar, Dr, Dicle University
Funda Başaran, Prof, Ankara University
Funda Şenol Cantek, Prof, Ankara University
Galip Deniz Altınay, Mersin University
Gencay Gürsoy, Prof, İstanbul University
Gökçe Topal, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Güçlü Ateşoğlu, Assist Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Gülhan Balsoy, Assist Prof, Okan University
Gülhan Türkay, Prof, İstanbul University
Gülce Sorguç, Res Assist, Ege University
Gürcan Altan, Prof, Trakya University
Güven Gürkan Öztan, Assist Prof, İstanbul University
H. Pınar Şenoğuz, Assist Prof, Gaziantep University
Hacer Ansal, Prof, Işık University
Hafize Öztürk Türkmen, Assist Prof, Akdeniz University
Hakan Gurvit, Prof, İstanbul University
Haldun Sural, Prof, Orta Doğu Teknik University
Hale Bolak Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Hejan Epözdemir, Dr, İstanbul Bilgi University
Hilal Akekmekçi, Res. Assist, İstanbul Bilgi University
Hüseyin A. Şahin, Prof, Ondokuz Mayıs University
Ilgın Erdem, Instructor, CUNY John Jay University
Işıl Ünal, Prof, Ankara University
İclal Ayşe Küçükkırca, Assist Prof, Mardin Artukulu University
İhsan Bilgin, İstanbul Bilgi University
İlkay Özkürapli, Instructor, Arel University
İnan Ünal, Instructor, Tunceli University
İrfan Açıkgöz, Prof, Dicle University
Kemal Bakır, Prof, Gaziantep University
Kemal Özay, Assist Prof, Okan University
Kıvanç Ersoy, Assoc Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Koray Çalışkan, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Kuban Altınel, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Kumru Toktamış, Assoc Prof, Pratt Institute
Kuvvet Lordoğlu, Prof, Kocaeli University
Levent Köker, Prof
Lütfiye Bozdağ, Assist Prof, İstanbul Kemerburgaz University
Mehmet Fatih Uslu, Assist Prof, İstanbul Şehir University
Mehmet Karaaslan, Prof, Işık University
Mehmet Rauf Kesici, Assist Prof, Kocaeli University
Mehmet Türkay, Prof, Marmara University
Mehmet Zencir, Prof, Pamukkale University
Melek Göregenli, Prof, Ege University
Melissa Bilal, Dr, Columbia University
Meltem Ahıska, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Meltem Gürle, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Meral Camcı, Assist Prof, İstanbul Yeni Yüzyıl University
Meral Özbek, Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Mine Gencel Bek, Prof, Ankara University
Murat Birdal, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Murat Germen, Sabancı University
Murat Koyuncu, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Murat Öztürk, Assoc Prof, Kırklareli University
Murat Paker, Assist Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Mustafa Altıntaş, Prof, Gazi University
Mustafa Kalay, Prof, Mersin University
Mustafa Peköz, Dr.
Mustafa Polat, Dr, Yeditepe University
Mustafa Sercan, Prof, Abant İzzet Baysal University
N. Gamze Toksoy, Assist Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Nazan Maksudyan, Assoc Prof, İstanbul Kemerburgaz University
Nazan Üstündağ, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Nermin Biter, Dr, Ege University
Neslihan Önenli Mungan, Prof, Adana
Neşe Yıldıran, Dr, Işık University
Nil Mutluer, Nişantaşı University
Nora Şeni, Prof.
Nur Betül Çelik, Prof, Ankara University
Nurcan Özkaplan, Prof, Işık University
Nurettin Beltekin, Assist Prof, Mardin Artuklu University
Nuri Ersoy, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Nursel Şahin, Prof, Akdeniz University
Nükhet Sirman, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Onur Hamzaoğlu, Prof, Kocaeli University
Osman Şahin, Instructor, Koç University
Ozan Değer, Res Assist, Ankara University
Öget Öktem Tanör, Prof, retired
Özen Aşut, Assoc Prof, retired
Özgün Akduran, Assist Prof, İstanbul University
Özgür Müftüoğlu, Marmara University
Özgür Mutlu Ulus Karadağ, Assist Prof, Acıbadem University
Özgür Soysal, Assist Prof, Ege University
Özlem Özkan, Assoc Prof, Kocaeli University
Pınar Kılıçer, Res Assist, Leiden University
Pınar Saip, Prof, İstanbul University
Ramazan Aşcı, Prof, Samsun
Raşit Tükel, Prof, İstanbul University
Rehber Akdoğan, Res. Assist, Dicle University
Rıdvan Şeşen, Prof, Dicle University
Ruken Alp, Dr, Sabancı University
Sami Cankat Tanrıverdi, Res Assist, İstanbul University
Sarp Balcı, Instructor, Ankara University
Savaş Çoban, Dr.
Seçkin Özsoy, Assoc Prof, Ankara University
Seda Altuğ, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Sefa Feza Arslan, Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Selçuk Ertekin Prof, Dicle University
Selim Temo, Assist Prof, Mardin Artukulu University
Sema Bayraktar, Assist Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Sema Erder, Prof, Marmara University, retired
Semih Bilgen, Prof, Yeditepe University
Semra Somersan, Prof.
Senem Timuroğlu, Instructor, Özyeğin University
Sevilay Çelenk, Assoc Prof, Ankara University
Şahika Yüksel, Prof, İstanbul University
Şemsa Özar, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Şule Aytaç, Dr.
Şükrü Ekin Kocabaş, Assist Prof, Koç University
T. Elvan Altan, Prof, Ortadoğu Teknik University
Taha Kahraman, Prof, Akdeniz University
Tahsin Yeşildere, Prof, İstanbul University
Tamer Demiralp, Prof, İstanbul University
Taner Gören, Prof, İstanbul University
Taner Özbenli, Prof, Ondokuz Mayıs University
Tansel Korkmaz, İstanbul Bilgi University
Teoman Pamukçu, Prof, Ortadoğu Teknik University
Tezcan Duma, Assoc Prof, Ankara University
Tuna Altınel, Assoc Prof, Claude Bernard Lyon-1 University
Tuğrul Atasoy, Prof, Bülent Ecevit University
Tülin Özdemir Johansson, Assoc Prof, Lassel Üniveristesi
Tülin Ural, Dr, Mimar Sinan University
Uğur Kara, Assist Prof, Anadolu University
Ulaş Bayraktar, Dr.
Umut Şah, Instructor, İstanbul Arel University
Ülkü Doğanay, Prof, Ankara University
Ülkü Güney, Assist Prof, Abant İzzet Baysal University
Vangelis Kechriotis, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Veli Deniz, Prof. Kocaeli University
Veli Polat, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Vildan İyigüngör, Assoc Prof, Marmara University
Yahya Madra, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Yasemin Özgün, Assoc Prof, Anadolu University
Yasin Ceylan, Prof, Ortadoğu Teknik University
Yeşim Edis Şahin, Prof, Dokuz Eylül University
Yıldıray Ozan, Prof, Ortadoğu Teknik University
Yıldız Silier, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Yılmaz Özdil, Assist Prof, Mardin Artuklu University
Yonca Hürol, Prof, Doğu Akdeniz University
Yusuf Çiftçi, Instructor, Mardin Artukulu University
Yücel Demirer, Assoc Prof, Kocaeli University
Z. Umut Türem, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Zafer Ercan, Prof, Abant İzzet Baysal University
Zafer Yenal, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Zeki Kılıçarslan, Prof, İstanbul University
Zelal Ekinci, Prof, Kocaeli University
Zergün Utku Altıntaş, Dr, Gazi University
Zerrin İren Boynudelik, Dr, İstanbul Teknik University
Zeynep Gambetti, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Zeynep Kadirbeyoğlu, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Zerrin Kurtoğlu Şahin, Prof, Ege University
Zeynep Kıvılcım, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Zeynep Uysal, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University


[1] Wise People’s Committee (Akil İnsanlar Heyeti), which was composed of 63 members, was constituted on April 4, 2013 to explain the process to people and to report their expectations from peace.
[2] Dolmabahçe Agreement was declared on February 28th, 2015 by members of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) and People’s Democracy Party (PDP) as the framework for peace negotiations. However, after the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared his disapproval of the agreement, it was disowned by JDP.
[3] On July 15th, 2015, the Law on ending terror and strengthening of social cohesion was passed that gave legal framework to peace negotiations.
[4] Abdullah Öcalan is the leader of PKK and remains in prison since 1999.
[5] Throughout the 1990s when the war between the Turkish state and the PKK was at its peak a number of human rights violations has been committed by the state against Kurds including disappearance, extra judicial murders, displacement, rape and harassment. To this day no one has been prosecuted for these crimes although confessions of former officials who committed these crimes are abound. During 2000s, Kurds living or working in cities of Turkey have been victims of numerous hate crimes.


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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Erdogans AKP-Regime ends peace process with Kurds

In the evening of 24th of July 2015 turkish military jets have started to bomb several positions of the Kurdish Workers Party PKK, mainly in Northern Iraq. PKK Guerillas have already started to encounter the atacks inside Turkish teritory. This means that the peace process has come to an end, now.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Deadly blast on Youth Camp preparing their help for rebuilding Kobane

A blast has occurred at the ‪#‎Amara‬ Culture Center in ‪#‎Suruç‬ district of ‪#‎Urfa‬ where members of the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (‪#‎SGDF‬) coming from various cities have been staying before their planned cross into ‪#‎Kobanê‬ to help the reconstruction works today.
Many casualties are reported at the scene.
Young and beautiful people from all over Turkey, gathered in Suruç, to cross the border to the war-torn town of Kobane (Syria), and bring smiles to childrens' faces by taking them toys, building for them playgrounds and libraries. They represented determination, courage, altruism, cohesion, selflessness. Their faces and smiles tell us much about them.
Today, afternoon, a bomb took the lives of 31 activists in Suruç, Turkey at a press conference of a socialist youth federation. Many more are wounded. Most of the dead were university students aged 18-22 who felt responsiblity to take a bold initiative in helping hands on the warn-torn people of Kobane - a demolished town.
It was an attack by terrorists and their supporters against HOPE and COHESION. But this shall unite their causes further.
Many protests were organized later at night, to raise voice against the massacre. Turkish government did not surprise, and in typical fashion, devoid of conscience and common sense, attacked the protesters with water, teargas and plastic bullets.


Monday, June 01, 2015

Statement by Miloud Lahmar Cherif on the federal police's charges against him on racist control

My statement on the federal police's charges against me on racist control

If you are a non-white man or a woman living in Germany, you have probably - at least once during your stay here - been asked by the police to show your personal documents without any obvious reasons behind that behavior. This act could take place anywhere in Germany, especially in the trains, train-stations and public spaces. You might have been also wondering why they did exactly choose YOU among tens or hundreds of white people to ask you for your personal documents. Often is the answer my color of skin, my clothing style, my language ..., everything that makes you look different than this nation.
It is a feeling of injustice when you are the only one in the train compartment who is asked to show your ID, I feel disrespected, insulted, discriminated. I see the police as racist executors!
The police uses the power of law to justify the execution of racist controls, they use the fear that most refugees and migrants are carrying with them from their home countries, they use the unjustified and miserable silence of some us!
The policemen and -women will happily tell you that racism cannot be a crime in Germany, so you can't charge them for being racist at all. But on the other side - if you tell him or her “you are racist!” they will feel insulted and will run to the nearest court to let you be prosecuted for “insult” (Beleidigung). This is the broken logic that the system in Germany tries to play with us.
One of the many definitions of the Racial Profiling is as follow …“Any police-initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than the behavior of an individual or information that leads the police to a particular individual who has been identified as being, or having been, engaged in criminal activity.”. We are getting criminalized for being or looking different.
On the 07th September 2014 around 14:45h two federal policemen from Meiningen asked me in the train heading to Meiningen to show my ID document for NO REASON. I was the only one controlled because I was the only non-white in the compartment. When I asked them why they are asking for my ID, their answer was as follow “This our job and the law gave us the right to control...”. I told them that this behavior is no more tolerated by court decisions in Germany and gave them some examples where the court said that the policeman hasn't the right to control a person based on his skin color and if that happened than this is racist and no more a “legal control”. I used the Koblenz Court's Judgment as a reference.
I insisted to go to their police station at Meinigen train station to hand in complaint about these two policemen. I spent more than one hour in their station to do this complaint against the two of them. A month later I received a letter from the public prosecution office telling me that I'm accused of “insulting the two policemen” claiming I've told them “you're racist”. I knew that it wasn't more than a sneaky try from them to hit back against my complaint that I wrote with insisting intention of taking the two to the courts. This dirty game that the German policemen routinely play is about LIE. They have lie to justify their wrong behaviors by falsifying misrepresentation.
I am determined to face them in Arnstadt District Court on the 28th May 2015 at 10:00 to expose their lies to the public. I did NOT say what they are claiming. If I would have said it, I wasn't to deny it! Be the witness! Your solidarity is another key in this fight against racial profiling in Germany. Let them hear us!

Miloud Lahmar Cherif, – Activist of The VOICE Refugee Forum in Jena

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Pennsylvania State Prison Killing Mumia by Medical Neglect and Denial

Mumia Abu-Jamal Needs Medical Care NOW!

Mumia remains critically ill and needs our support to get lifesaving medical care immediately. Watch this gripping short video and find out how.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Germany deports a member of the Sudanese opposition to be killed in Sudan

Statement against the planned deportation of Hamdi Abdullah from the Refugees protest camp at Weisse Kreuzplatz in Hannover written on 04.28.2015

The Sudanese opposition member Hamdi Abdallah, born on 06.07.1985, living in Wingst, Cuxhaven, is currently in Langenhagen in a deportation prision. There he has to wait for his deportation to Sudan scheduled for May 5.

The Sudan is ruled by the islamic dictator Omar Al Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for crimes against humanity and other serious crimes. It is not a phantasm when we say that the German government is cooperating with the sudanese state of injustice and persecution. The oppositional activist Hamdi Abdullah will be exposed to death penalty in Sudan if he is deported there.

Today, April 28, 2015 the police of the immigration authorities Cuxhaven have arrested Hamdi Abdallah when he wanted to renew his passport and they brought him into the deportation prison in Langenhagen. We condemn this criminal act by the German authorities in the strongest terms. We consider the police, the responsible judge, the district and the state parliament of Lower Saxony, the Ministry of the Interior, namely Interior Minister Pistorius, the German Government and the High Commissioner for Refugees of the United Nations as being responsible for the live and safety of Hamdi Aballahs. In case Hamdi Abdullah suffers the death penalty in Sudan, we will use this statement in court as explanation and evidence.

We, refugees from Sudan in Niedersachsen, see ourselves as represantatives of the Sudanese community in Germany. With the protest camp on the White Kreuzplatz we have built a center of our shared commitment for a peaceful and democratic change in Sudan against the islamic dictatorship of Omar Al Bashir. The cooperation of the German government with the Sudanese government raises major difficulties for us in our fight. The cooperation for example resides ins the fact that the German government deports our active, to be put in prison and be killed in Sudan. Hamdi is not the first and will not be the last!

We call on all those responsible in to stop this deportation immediately to end any kind of cooperation with the Sudanese Government and to grant Hamdi immediately the right to stay in Germany. We call on all responsible members of German society to rescue Hamdi Abdallah from deportation to a certain death in Sudan!

STOP deportation! FREEDOM for Hamdi NOW!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Response on racist police violence in Baltimore: Nonviolence as Compliance

Ta-Nehisi Coates Apr 27, 2015
About the Author

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Officials calling for calm can offer no rational justification for Gray's death, and so they appeal for order.

Rioting broke out on Monday in Baltimore—an angry response to the death of Freddie Gray, a death my native city seems powerless to explain. Gray did not die mysteriously in some back alley but in the custody of the city's publicly appointed guardians of order. And yet the mayor of that city and the commissioner of that city's police still have no idea what happened. I suspect this is not because the mayor and police commissioner are bad people, but because the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.
The citizens who live in West Baltimore, where the rioting began, intuitively understand this. I grew up across the street from Mondawmin Mall, where today's riots began. My mother was raised in the same housing project, Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray was killed. Everyone I knew who lived in that world regarded the police not with admiration and respect but with fear and caution. People write these feelings off as wholly irrational at their own peril, or their own leisure. The case against the Baltimore police, and the society that superintends them, is easily made:
Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson ....
And in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims—if charges were filed at all. In an incident that drew headlines recently, charges against a South Baltimore man were dropped after a video showed an officer repeatedly punching him—a beating that led the police commissioner to say he was “shocked.”
The money paid out by the city to cover for the brutal acts of its police department would be enough to build "a state-of-the-art rec center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds." Instead, the money was used to cover for the brutal acts of the city's police department and ensure they remained well beyond any semblance of justice.

Now, tonight, I turn on the news and I see politicians calling for young people in Baltimore to remain peaceful and "nonviolent." These well-intended pleas strike me as the right answer to the wrong question. To understand the question, it's worth remembering what, specifically, happened to Freddie Gray. An officer made eye contact with Gray. Gray, for unknown reasons, ran. The officer and his colleagues then detained Gray. They found him in possession of a switchblade. They arrested him while he yelled in pain. And then, within an hour, his spine was mostly severed. A week later, he was dead. What specifically was the crime here? What particular threat did Freddie Gray pose? Why is mere eye contact and then running worthy of detention at the hands of the state? Why is Freddie Gray dead?

The people now calling for nonviolence are not prepared to answer these questions. Many of them are charged with enforcing the very policies that led to Gray's death, and yet they can offer no rational justification for Gray's death and so they appeal for calm. But there was no official appeal for calm when Gray was being arrested. There was no appeal for calm when Jerriel Lyles was assaulted. (“The blow was so heavy. My eyes swelled up. Blood was dripping down my nose and out my eye.”) There was no claim for nonviolence on behalf of Venus Green. (“Bitch, you ain’t no better than any of the other old black bitches I have locked up.”) There was no plea for peace on behalf of Starr Brown. (“They slammed me down on my face,” Brown added, her voice cracking. “The skin was gone on my face.")
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.

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