Saturday, December 30, 2006
The school mates of the children are very upset. They did a powerfull demonstration to the city hall of Bremerhaven.
in front of the city hall
reading out the demands
"Stop the deportation"
"How would you feel?"
So they did in Bremen:
A communique from the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) "Intergalactic Commission," Dec. 24 (our translation):
Compañer@s, Herman@s: In a few days more will be Dec. 30, 2006, the start of the "Encuentro de los Pueblos Zapatistas con los Pueblos del Mundo" (Meeting of the Zapatista Villages with the Peoples of the World), which will end Jan. 2, 2007.
The compañer@s of the support bases and the authorities of the autonomous municipalities and Good Government Committees (juntas de buen gobierno) of the Carcol of Oventic are very happy and animated, as are the compañer@s of the other caracoles preparing for the encuentro.
As of Dec. 24, we have counted compañer@s from 30 countries whose rpesence is confirmed. From the American continent, we have registered compas from Argentina, Brasil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Estados Unidos, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela. From Europe, brothers and sisters have arrived at Oventic from Germany, France, Belgium, Basque Country, Catalonia, Spain, Greece, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland. And from Oceania, we have met compas from Australia and New Zealand.
We have also had communication from compañer@s who, while very animated, were unable to come this time, but say they are preparing to attend the next encuentro in July...
After registering by Internet, all attendees should check in at the offices of Enlace Zapatista in San Cristo'bal de las Casas, Chiapas, Ignacio Allende Street, number 22-A, Barrio de San Antonio, telephone: (967) 6781013...
For our compañer@s around the world who have access to the Internet, if all goes well, there will be information transmitted live and direct of all our activities. You can also read accounts,updates, and see photos on our page:
You can also write us, tell us what you are doing, what you think, or send word by e-mail:
The Zapatistas invite you to speak with us and exchange ideas and experiences. For the first time in our history, we are bringing together representatives from our five Good Government Committees and our Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities (MAREZ) to speak publicly about our humble work and the problems and challenged we confront... We are only trying to show what we are building, with many difficulties, but also with many desires construct another world, one in which those that command, command obeying.
Very well, compañer@s, we will be seeing you the days of the encuentro. We are waiting for you.
Insurgent Lieutenant Colonel Moises
EZLN Intergalactic Commission
Source archived at Chiapas95
La Comisión Intergaláctica del EZLN invita a todos y a todas a los encuentros entre los pueblos Zapatistas y los pueblos del mundo en Oventik, Chiapas el 30 y 31 de diciembre del 2006 y el 1 y 2 de enero del 2007.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Anton Balasingham 1938 - December 14, 2006
Journalist who became the chief strategist and negotiator of the Tamil Tigers in their struggle for autonomy
Anton Balasingham provided the intellectual framework for the violence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He was the brains behind the brawn, someone the leadership could turn to for ideological guidance, philosophical justification and political explanation while the killing went on.
A forlorn-faced man, ill with a transplanted kidney, he travelled to devastated northern Sri Lanka in 2002 to act as the rebels’ negotiator in peace talks brokered by Norway. The Tigers vainly asked India to host the encounter so that Balasingham could be near a hospital in case of an emergency. Everybody feared that he would die before the best chance of peace in more than two decades could be seized.
The difficulty was how to get him to Sri Lanka without his being assassinated. So, accompanied by his Australian wife, Adele, he flew in from London to the Maldives and transferred to a privately chartered De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplane, which landed on a reservoir in a rebel-controlled area south of Kilinochechi. The Colombo Government had ordered the airspace above northeast Sri Lanka to be kept clear of all aircraft, and the seaplane maintained radio silence throughout its journey lest hostile forces picked up the signal, revealing its whereabouts and mission.
The First Secretary of the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo was aboard. Immediately after it landed a Sea Tiger craft moved in to provide security. On the shore, the plump figure of Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Tigers, could be made out standing with his wife Mathivathany, and other Tigers leaders. They were awaiting “Bala Annai” and “Auntie”, as young Tigers cadres called the Balasinghams. A house had been constructed for their stay.
This elaborate journey was a measure of the importance the Tigers placed in the one man they could trust with their destiny in what looked like being a breakthrough in talks with the Sri Lankan Government of Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Everybody underestimated, however, the determination of hardcore Sinhalese organisations like the JVP and hardline Buddhist clergy to scuttle any deal that gave the Tamils even a hint of autonomy. The peace deal failed, and Balasingham had made a life-threatening journey with no more to show for it than the continuation of a shaky ceasefire.
Under his guidance the Tigers had entered several rounds of successful talks with the Government, all brokered by Norway, watched suspiciously from the sidelines by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. In the end she used her presidential powers to scupper the deal.
Her successor, President Mahinda Rajapakse, also rejected the concepts of a Tamil homeland and Tamil nationhood. The JVP, in a previous incarnation a fanatically violent organisation but by now the third biggest political party in the country, had threatened “undiplomatic” consequences if the peace deal went through. All of this, Balasingham said with uncharacteristic understatement, represented an obstacle.
In taking the Tigers to the brink of peace, Balasingham had steered the rebels away from their earlier demand for a fully fledged independent state called Eelam. What the Tamils wanted, he said, was “a homeland and self-determination”. If that demand were rejected and the “oppression” continued, there would be no option but to fight for full statehood. Those words signalled the collapse of peace hopes.
Balasingham, who gained a PhD from South Bank Polytechnic in London (his dissertation was on the psychology of Marxism), had been the Tigers’ theoretician since the early 1990s and clearly had the full confidence of Prabhakaran. He had a British passport and in 1999, much to the Sri Lanka Government’s anger, was allowed to settle in London with his wife, Adele Wilby, an Australian citizen and former nurse he had married in 1978. She lived with him for years in Jaffna, the Tamils’ heartland, and became a leader of the Tigers’ women’s section. Australia sought her arrest for violating a law that prohibits participation in foreign wars.
By the time he moved to London, Balasingham, known among activist Tamils simply as “Bala,” was seriously ill with kidney trouble. The Tigers released a large number of Sri Lankan Army prisoners as a goodwill gesture in return for the Colombo Government ensuring his safe passage abroad. The gesture failed, and so the Tigers took Balasingham aboard one of their ships to Thailand, and from there he travelled to Singapore and on to London. No one expected to see him back in Sri Lanka.
When he did return for the 2002 peace talks the reunion with Prabhakaran was emotional. His influence over Prabhakaran was embarrassingly obvious at a packed press conference in Sri Lanka during the 2002 peace process. Balasingham knew about journalists, having been one himself for a Colombo newspaper before working as a translator at the British High Commission.
He was doubtless responsible for the image makeover of the Tigers leader. Eschewing his customary military fatigues and sidearm Prabhakaran attended the press conference in a safari suit and had even shaved off his moustache. After almost every question he would lean towards Balasingham to be primed with the reply, and for the most part Balasingham would do the replying for him. Which led one commentator to ask: “So who is the real leader of the Tamil Tigers?”
Balasingham died of cancer. He is survived by his wife.Anton Balasingham, chief strategist of the Tamil Tigers, was born in 1938. He died on December 14, 2006, aged 68
TamilNet: 14.12.06 Anton Balasingham passes away
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
We call for these actions to come together in a worldwide mobilization for Oaxaca on December 22, 2006 - Communiqué of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee, General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
To the people of Mexico:
To the people of the world:
Brothers and Sisters:
The attack that our brothers, the people of Oaxaca suffered and suffer cannot be ignored by those who fight for freedom, justice and democracy in all corners of the planet.
This is why, the EZLN calls on all honest people, in Mexico and the world, to initiate, starting now, continual actions of solidarity and support to the Oaxacan people, with the following demands:
For the living reappearance of the disappeared, for the freedom of the detained, for the exit of Ulises Ruiz and the federal forces from Oaxaca, for the punishment of those guilty of torture, rape and murder. (en español)
We call to those in this international campaign to tell, in all forms and in all places possible, what has occurred and what is occurring in Oaxaca, everyone in their way, time and place.
We call for these actions to come together in a worldwide mobilization for Oaxaca on December 22, 2006.
The people of Oaxaca are not alone. We have to say so and demonstrate it, to them and to everyone.
By the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Insurgent Subcommander Marcos.
Mexico, December of 2006
Visit the new site of the APPO
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between US and Philippines to Serve Justice for Nicole
The gang rape of Nicole by four US marines in the Philippines is not only an issue of a woman but a whole nation raped for the last century, made possible through onerous and lopsided military agreements, much like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between US and Philippines to Serve Justice for Nicole
The gang rape of Nicole by four US marines in the Philippines is not only an issue of a woman but a whole nation raped for the last century, made possible through onerous and lopsided military agreements, much like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
While on one hand, people should celebrate the verdict of “guilty” for Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, the acquittal of three other rapists, namely: Staff Sergeant Chad Carpenter and Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis must be condemned and opposed.
As the maxim says: “An act of one is an act of all.” Why would the Philippine Court exonerate the other three accomplices when they were cheering while the Smith was committing his bestial act on the helpless Nicole on the same vehicle? For a long time, rape was considered a heinous crime and was punishable by death until capital punishment was lifted in the Philippines in recognition of the harrowing trauma that a rape causes. Where is the “spirit of the law?”
Why celebrate the "quarter-victory" when the Philippine government acts as the lawyer for the Americans, cannot even demand custody and accepts the VFA as puppet's delight when Filipinos are being oppressed and trampled by US occupation troops aka "visiting forces" who raped our women and make a mockery of our laws?
Some media presents the decision as half-victory and that people are half-satisfied. The fact that only one out of four was convicted does not make it half. The half-ness may even get worse as the US Embassy was again pushing to take custody of Smith in much the same manner when the US government took custody of the four rapists during trial. There were 2,000 criminal cases committed since the US Bases were established in the Philippines for the last century. Except for Smith, none was ever convicted.
Looking at the big picture, any crime committed by US servicemen will never see justice so long as the Philippine government remains a puppet and tied to the military agreement that violates the Philippine Constitution, which explicitly states: “…that no foreign troops will be allowed in any part of the country for combat purposes.”
The case of Nicole is a showcase of the Philippine government failure to assert national sovereignty, and that Philippine courts are symptomatic of this general failure.
It took a woman to again highlight the issue of rape and the lopsided relationship of the Philippines and the US. It will take the courage of the Filipino people and justice-loving citizens of the world to call for the scrapping of the VFA.
Abrogate the VFA, Now!
Uphold Philippine sovereignty!
Justice for Nicole!
Contact: Violy De Guzman
Statement by the Task Force Subic Rape
Task Force Subic Rape
Dec. 4, 2006
It is with deep pride and humility that the Task Force Subic Rape and the “Justice for Nicole Justice for the Nation” campaign join Nicole, her family and relatives, supporters and the entire nation in welcoming the decision of Judge Benjamin Pozon of the Makati Trial Court.
We believe that the Subic rape case is a landmark case for being the first that has come to trial in our country against U.S. servicemen, and for its importance in challenging the implementation of the Anti-rape Law in the furtherance of women’s rights. The case of Nicole has brought to light not only the issue of violence against women but also just as important the nature of the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA.
The victory of Nicole is a victory for all Filipino women. It is as well a victory for the nation. From hereon, the VFA cannot be used to defend abusive conduct and behavior of any military person, man or woman, who transgress the laws of the land. Yet, in the same breath, for as long as the VFA is intact with its one-sided privileges given to the US military personnel, every woman who is abused by US military, would have to fight as hard as Nicole.
There will be other times and many more occasions to continue the struggle against the VFA. We will persevere in this. Nicole has won, and justice has been achieved for the entire nation. We as a people have shown that we are indeed sovereign. We want to thank Judge Pozon for his courage and belief in justice. In his decision, the people can gather hope again that indeed our justice system is the bearer of truth, which cannot be swayed by threats or any other political pressures. Thank you, Judge Pozon.
Nicole is a model of Filipino womanhood: courageous, unflinching in her principles, and one who should be emulated by all women who remain silenced in their pains. Justice can only be served once we all break out from the fears that envelop us. Violence against women cannot and will not be tolerated.
Nicole will move on, even how difficult it may be. Her victory must be made complete to the end until legal proceedings reach finality. TFSR will see to it that the justice she has claimed will not be taken away from her. Justice must be meted out not only to the convicted but even to those acquitted who were party to the crime. We collectively and individually will see to it that this victory remains a lesson and a guiding path for all women victims of sexual abuse.
who did not stop a rape,
who egged the rapist on,
who treated the victim with extreme prejudice
because of her race and gender
CAN NEVER BE PROSECUTED AGAIN
and you call that Victory?"
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Within the last few years, the African community in Germany has been on the streets to let their voices heard in relation to the laxity of the German executive, judiciary and legislative bodies to speedily bring to justice "hate crimes" like racism committed against a black man. An example is the case of Oury Jallow who was killed in the police cell in Dessau.
Two years ago Oury Jallow was locked up after severe beatings from the Dessau police officers in the cell and the cell later went into flames. Though the police officers were present, non rescued Oury Jallow. On the contrary, the sound of the alarm was reduced and Oury Jallow burnt to death.
The African community holds very strong that the police of Dessau killed Oury Jallow. We are calling for a speedy action against the police perpetrator of this act in front of justice and not to use the old strategy of "shying away". This old strategy of shying away from racist crimes committed against Africans and other black people living in Germany has promoted and escalated police brutality against Africans and other blacks in Germany.
It is of the interest of the German government to downplay the existence of Africans and other black people in Germany and to hide the long standing relationship of expliotation like slavery and colonialism Germany has had in Africa that has rubbed Africa and its people from their riches and forced them to migrate.
This not withstanding, the African community will continue in its struggle to force the German authorities to speed up any hate crime committed against Afrcans and other blacks living in Germany. The police in Dessau and the judiciary do not provide effective protection to Africans and blacks in their jurisdiction. The duties of institutions like the police and the judiciary entail a wide range of duties: speedy investigation and handling of complaints of racist discrimination, counselling public and private authorities and the creation of awareness in the public of the existence of Africans and blacks in this society.
On the contrary, it is tragic that the police and the courts are not functioning as
espected. They indulge in very slow procedure when it is against an African or black. They play the role of portraying Africans and blacks as criminals of their society that should be excluded and discriminated upon.
Another form of racism in Dessau like in other parts of Germany is institutional racism. This can be seen in the nature Africans who have right of residence permit of this country are refused by the authority. There are Africans with children and married to Germans but they do not have regular documents as the law stipulates. The African community will like to have an explanation why it is so in Dessau.
Street racism is another form of racism the Africans and blacks in Dessau face on daily basis. When Africans are on the street, they are attacked verbally and physically. Due to laxity of the police and the courts, the common man on the streets see an African or a black as an object of redicule. There is no respect of co-existence in the society. We are afraid that the next pogrom in Germany will be against the blacks.
In order to comemorate the brutal death of Oury Jalloh, the African community in Dessau in collaboration with the mother branch in Germany are calling on all Africans and well wishers to use this day in remembrace of other Afrcans and blacks who died in the racist hands of this country. Let us put in mind our departed brothers and sisters; Dominique Kouamadio (Dortmund), Laye-Alama Condé (Bremen), John Achidi (Hamburg), N'deye Mareame Sarr (Aschaffenburg), Amir Ageeb (München), Kola Bankole (Frankfurt), Alberto Adriano (Dessau) and Amadeo Antoneo.
1. We want a speedy court procedure of the death of Oury Jallow
2. Call for the stop of police brutality
3. Call for the protection of Africans like any other individual living in Dessau
4. Call for the right of residence to those Africans who have been refused their
The events are coordinated by The African Community Conference-Dessau with the participation of African-Black Community.
Email: email@example.com, https://www.thevoiceforum.org
African Community Conference in Dessau (06.01.2007) | The Voice Refugee Forum
Congratulations to Hugo Chávez Frías!
The masses of Venezuelan people are enthusiastic about Hugo Chavez victory!
Chávez has won 62,89% of the votes and he has gained the majority in all states of the country, even in Rosales stronghold the state of Zulia.
¡Uh, ah, Chávez no se va!
Counterpunch Weekend Edition
December 2 / 3, 2006
The Bride Wore Black
The Shooting of Sean Bell and the Resurgence of American Racism
By KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR
Sean Bell was murdered and his two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, were maimed by New York City cops minutes after the trio finished celebrating Bell's marriage the next day. The three were set up by undercover cops who were looking for trouble in a bar in Queens; they were trapped in their car desperately trying to leave the scene. New York's finest pumped fifty bullets in their direction-twenty-one shots hitting the car the three friends were in-invoking the ghost of Amadou Diallo.
The NYPD is already leaking and spreading lies to a willing press in hopes of shifting the blame onto three unarmed, innocent Black men-as per usual. So now we can read about the "sympathy shooting" explanation-likened to how when one person in a room laughs then everyone starts laughing: when one cop started shooting they all started shooting. The cops and the media are bending over backwards to troll through the histories of these men to bring up juvenile criminal records that were supposed to have been sealed. We are fed uncorroborated stories that Guzman bragged he had a gun. Predictably, in the smoking carnage of the aftermath of the NYPD execution of the three buddies no guns were found.
In many ways this case is just another example of the racist police terror that grips most of the inner cities in the United States. Police departments in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Dallas, and Philadelphia-to only name the most egregious-have spent the better part of the last two decades locked in corruption scandals from accusations of torture and racism; to drug dealing and murder for hire; to forced confessions and planting evidence, and battling lawsuits against charges of police brutality and police misconduct.
Racist police practice remains the main culprit for the disproportionate numbers of imprisoned African-American men and women in the nation's jails and prison. 58 percent of all convicted drug felony cases involve African-American men-even though Black men are only 6 percent of the national population and 72 percent of all illegal drug users are white. 12 percent of Black men aged 25 to 29 years old are imprisoned compared to 3 percent of Latinos and 1 percent of white men. In 2002, there were 603,000 Black men in college compared to 791,600 Black men in prison. Black women are two and a half times more likely than Latinas and four and a half times more likely than white women to be imprisoned. In total, 49 percent of the U.S.'s two million prisoners-in prison or in jail-are African American. This is a shocking statistic considering that Blacks are less than 13 percent of the entire United States population.
The legal lynching of Sean Bell certainly fits into the historical continuity of racist police violence directed at African Americans. But racism against Latino immigrants, Arabs and Muslims have also risen sharply. The cold, hard facts are that the political rancor in Washington amongst Democrats and Republicans about immigrants, so-called border security, homeland security, and the War on Terror in general has made racism permissible, tolerable and legitimate all in the name of "political debate".
The racist backlash against the nascent immigrant rights movement is not only embodied in the neo-fascist Minutemen Project, but has also found expression in a number of "state's rights" initiatives aimed at rehabilitating Jim Crow segregation for Latinos and relegating Latinos to second class citizenship. Since the mass marches of last spring, several local ordinances have passed in favor of English only laws, prohibiting the extension of social services to the undocumented, and essentially criminalizing the undocumented-and those who look like the undocumented-across the country. Local officials and anti-immigrant activists have taken their cue from Washington D.C., where politicians from both parties have blamed the presence of immigrants in this country for everything from unemployment, to low wages, to poor schools, and to placing an undo burden on the social safety net-a ludicrous charge considering the now two billion dollars a week the U.S. continues to plow into a losing effort in Iraq. Both Democrats and Republicans worked together to sanction the building of 700 mile long wall along the U.S. and Mexican border-including liberal darling Barack Obama who pitched in his vote for the wall as well. During a heated race for a Senate seat in Tennessee Democratic Congressman Harold Ford bragged, "I'm the only person on this stage who has ever voted for an anti-illegal-immigration bill" Congressman Tom Tancredo-an elected representative of the United States government-recently compared the 65 percent Latino city of Miami to a Third World country. He complained about Miami, "the sheer size and number of ethnic enclaves devoid of any English and dominated by foreign cultures is widespread. Frankly, many of these areas could have been located in another country. And until America gets serious about demanding assimilation, this problem will continue to spread."
It is not only the racist nature of the "debate" over undocumented immigrants that poisons the atmosphere, but it is also the shrill anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rhetoric that has been the political vogue since 9-11-with no end in sight. Since 9-11 and the racist roundups of thousands of Muslim men, it has been open season on Arabs and Muslims in American society. According to a Washington Post poll taken last March, a majority of Americans think that "Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence." The same poll found that one in four Americans has a negative view of Arabs. A USA Today poll in August found that almost 40 percent of Americans harbored some prejudice against Muslims and the same number favored Muslims having to carry national identification cards.
This anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism has been sanctioned from the highest levels of government as the Bush administration and the Democrats who support its war efforts demonize and de-humanize the Arab "enemy" to justify both the U.S. and Israeli destruction of Arab country after Arab country. The unfathomable, genocidal deaths of 655,000 Iraqis since the war began in 2003 is only tolerable if the Iraqis are viewed as having less humanity and less worth than the rest of the world. Even as late into the war as 2005, there was a 30 percent increase in hate crimes perpetrated against Muslims. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tracked 1,972 incidents against Muslims in 2005-the highest number since 1995 in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. According to a study compiled by the University of Illinois, the wages of Muslim men in the United States have dropped by 10 percent since 9-11.
Racism and the State
Racism in American society is hardly new, but there is a new respectability for it that is sanctioned by the highest levels of government lending an air of authority and legitimacy to the attacks on Latinos and Arabs in our society. Racism has historically been used to divide, distract and rule American workers. Today is no different. Neither political party has solutions for the ongoing crisis that all workers lives are mired in-unattainable healthcare, rising taxes, low wages, raided pension funds, perpetual downsizing and layoffs and general insecurity spurred on by unending wars and an uncertain future. In the absence of a real political program, the powers that be have opted for scapegoating and repression.
The resurgence of racism is coupled with ever expanding police powers and the legitimization of a "by all means necessary" approach to law enforcement. From wiretapping to the purposely vague "enemy combatant" label the Bush administration is not only preparing for battles abroad but the inevitable conflicts at home. In other words, not only has the Patriot Act allowed the Bush Administration to follow and surveil perpetually suspect Muslim organization, but the same laws are used to monitor and harass peace and anti-war organizations. From Abu Grahib to Guantanamo to the South Side of Chicago, to East L.A., to the streets of Queens where Sean Bell was gunned down law enforcement has been allowed to roam unchecked by city halls, state houses and the federal government.
It is inevitable that this web of "respectable" racism directed at the undocumented, Latinos, Muslims and Arabs would eventually entangle African Americans. American racism is not like a water facet that can be turned on for some and turned off for others. It is a continuous stream that eventually gets everyone wet. In the 1990s in California, tens of thousands of African Americans voted for the racist Proposition 187---an ordinance aimed at stripping immigrants of their access to a wide range of social services. Blacks were told that the presence of Latino immigrants-documented and undocumented-were cutting into desperately needed resources for the Black community. Of course the passing of Prop 187 did not increase resources in the Black community it only helped to stoke general racial animosity so much so that a few years later Proposition 209-a California ban on affirmative action-passed resulting in thousands of Black students being locked out of universities across the state.
When Latinos buy into the stereotypes that Blacks do not work as hard as immigrants, it helps to preserve an atmosphere of finger pointing and scapegoating and divides Latinos against a necessary ally. When Blacks and Latinos accept the racist caricatures of Muslims and Arabs as terrorists it only helps justify government spending on "security" and law enforcement which in turn contributes to a "law and order" atmosphere allowing the police, the military and the border patrol to do "whatever it takes to keep us safe"-including harassing, detaining and sometimes killing Muslims, Latinos and Blacks. The American state has used the scapegoating and demonization of undocumented immigrants and Muslims to rehabilitate racial profiling after African American protest in the late 1990s largely discredited the practice.
The attacks on these affected communities has not only created victims but has also produced resistance. The immigrant rights movement, which drew millions of documented and undocumented workers onto American streets in unprecedented numbers, is the most powerful example of this dynamic. The movement was largely born out of reaction to a proposed congressional bill which would have criminalized the mere presence of the undocumented in the United States while turning all Latinos into suspects.
But there have been smaller expressions of resistance showing that the pieces for a generalized movement against racism exist. Earlier this month when six imams were handcuffed and herded off of a U.S. Airways plane because some passengers complained the men made them "uncomfortable", supporters organized a pray-in at the airline's ticket counter at Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C. UCLA student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, was handcuffed and tasered in the school library when he was profiled and asked to show identification and he refused. In response to this blatant act of racism and police brutality, two hundred students organized a protest against the police tactics and anti-Muslim racism. When management at Smithfield Foods fired 75 immigrant workers because they said the workers social security numbers did not match federal data, nearly 1,000 Latino workers walked off the job to audible shouts of "justicia" , "we want justice" and "no more abuse." Within two days management caved reinstating most of the fired workers and promising no reprisals for those who participated in the wildcat. Finally, in the aftermath of the murder of Sean Bell hundreds of Blacks took to the streets to demand justice and an end to police brutality in the Black community. This all just in the month of November.
The current debate and discussion amongst activists and in movement circles on how to achieve "Black-Brown" unity and collaboration are not simply abstract projections on "can't we all get along". These are desperately needed discussions on how to organize a movement based on the political principles of solidarity and "an injury to one is an injury to all." In fact that debate needs to be widened to include Muslims and Arabs and white workers who are rapidly being disabused of any false notions of privilege and power as their living standards have followed everyone else's down a bottomless sink hole.Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes regularly on issues of race and class for the International Socialist Review. She is author of Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs: Racism in America Today and Racism and the Criminal Injustice System.
On December 4, the Philippine Court will release a verdict on the following four US Marine “visiting troops” charged with gang-raping a 22-year old Nicole and a fresh graduate from a Catholic University: Lance Corporals Daniel Smith (principal accused), Dominic Duplantis, Keith Silkwood and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier. The latter three were reportedly at the scene cheering while the principal suspect was raping Nicole inside a cruising van at Subic Bay Freeport, which used to be part of the biggest US military naval base in the last Philippines, last Nov. 1, 2005.
Witnesses saw how Nicole was lifted from the van “like a pig” and left on pavement with her pants and panty down on her knee, and a used condom thrown at her. The defense lawyer, typical of other rape cases, argued that US Marines engaged in “consensual sex” and therefore there was no crime to speak of. During the hearing, a forensic expert proved that contusions on both sides of labia minora were indicative of a forceful entry of a blunt object. During cross-examination that is re-traumatic for a rape victim, Nicole testified that she resisted but felt helpless, as she was drunk. Adding insult to injury, Nicole was accused of being a “prostitute” (not that prostitutes can be raped) out to lure a white American soldier for an easy entry to the land of “milk and honey”.
Right from the start, the Philippine government through Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, who tried to downgrade the case of three Marines until opposed by two judges, has not only shown insensitivity to the rape victim but ironically was aiding the accused and showing its utter subservience to the US by handing the CUSTODY of the US marines to the US government.
This sheds light on another dimension of the rape case: the US marines who are in the Philippines by virtue of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) have violated the 1986 Philippine Constitution, which states “that no foreign troops will be allowed in any part of the archipelago for combat purposes.” No matter how you read the Constitution, the presence of the US “visiting troops” whether they are for “military exercise” or on “rest and recreation” program clearly violates the fundamental law of the Philippines. What make things worse are the reports of US marines clearly participating with their Philippine counterparts in military combat operations supposedly in an effort to fight “terrorists.”
The defeat of the Republicans in the last election has clearly shown the US public's utter disapproval of its government's foreign policy most especially the “war on terror.” The Philippines, regarded, as the so-called “second-front” is not spared from the brutalities of the war waged against innocent civilians and against women.
The case of Nicole is simply one of the more than 2,000 criminal cases against the US troops who have been in the Philippines in the last 100 years. To date, not a single US soldier has ever been convicted.
We demand that the US goverment respect the morals, culture and basic human rights of the people and most especially the women of other countries. We also demand that just as the US public had shown outrage over foreign policy on the war against Iraq, the US must honor the sovereignty of the Filipino people and immediately pull out the US troops there.
Justice for Nicole!
US troops out of the Philippines now!
ALLIANCE FOR A JUST AND LASTING PEACE IN THE PHILIPPINES (AJLPP) – U.S.A
Clich here to see Initial Signatories:
Friday, December 01, 2006
Around 10pm on 28 November, 2006, a group of detainees started a riot in Wing B after a guard switched off the TV preventing them from watching a report about Harmondsworth, and it soon spread to all 4 wings. Some detainees have reportedly been beaten up, while others were kept locked in, with fires and smoke all over the place [reports and updates]. 'Specialist officers' from prisons across the south of England were brought in to help the prison and immigration services 'contain the situation'. Everything is 'under control' now, according to the Home Office. [John Reid Invokes Riechstag Fire Tactics For Detention Centre Fire]
Several calls have been made for the next few days to show solidarity with those struggling inside the detention centres. No Borders is calling for a solidarity protest outside the headquarters of Kalyx on London's Edgware Road this Friday, 1st December from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. Barbed Wire Britain is also calling for a demonstration at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres near Heathrow airport for this Sunday 3rd December from 12:00 noon. Another protest has also been called by London FRFI for Tuesday 5th December from 1pm outside London's Communications House immigration reporting centre.
Late on Tuesday night, detainees in Wing B of Harmondsworth were watching the 10.00pm news, where an ex-detainee was being interviewed about Anne Ower's report criticising the centre's management and poor conditions. Detainees say a guard switched off the TV, incensing the detainees and sparking major disruption throughout the centre, with doors being broken and fires lit, causing the sprinkler system to go off. Early reports said that many detainees were beaten up, others were locked up in their rooms in parts of the centre, while others were still rioting. It was very difficult to get correct information as detainees were prevented from reaching the phones. When No Borders activists managed to speak to some detainees, the latter were soon told by the security guards to “get off the phone”.
At around 2:30am, the situation was escalating, with a lot shouting and smashing going on. A detainee said wings B and C were the worst, with water everywhere in wing B after they smashed the plumbing system, while the alarm in wing C was no longer working. Detainees could not go out and the guards were nowhere to be seen, supposedly because they feared for their own safety. Police had been called but they hadn't gone in yet. the caller also said some detainees were injured.
At around 3am, many detainees were outside in the exercise yard, while those on the 3rd floor were locked in and could not get out. Smoke could be smelled and it was getting hot inside as they had no ventilation. The police and the fire brigade arrived just before 4am and said everything was “under control”. A Home Office spokesperson said a number of “specialist officers from prisons across the South of England” were deployed to “assist the Prison and Immigration Services by securing the perimeter” and that there was “absolutely no risk to the public.”
Around mid-day, communication with detainees was partly restored; the lines seemed to have being re-opened but most detainees were still not answering. A detainee in wing D said nobody was hurt in his wing but riot police were still there. Together with others, he was taken to the courtyard around midnight and spent the night there, in the cold and without any food or medication. They could not go back inside until 7 am. In wing A, a detainee said they were still all locked up in their rooms and the police were beating up people in the corridor. They had no water, no food and spent the night locked inside despite the fire and smoke. Just before noon, about 50 detainees were seen in the courtyard spelling out the words “HELP”, “SOS” and “FREEDOM” using their bed sheets.
Strangely enough, the riots this time received some attention from the mainstream media (although, of course, their reports were mostly watered downed). The BBC had a reporter on the ground and a helicopter hovering overhear, which was ordered away from the scene by the police at about 14.10 for “security reasons”. The police had their own helicopter in its place now. Later in the day, the events were the leading story on Sky News. Both channels had interviewed George Mwangi, who blamed fellow detainees for the 'disturbances'.
Harmondsworth Previous Protests and Background Info
The riots come a day after the chief inspector of prisons strongly criticised the centre's (mis)management, in what was described as the "poorest report ever" on any UK immigration removal centre. Earlier this year, many detainees in Harmondsworth and other detention centres, mainly in adjacent Colnbrook, went on hunger strike in protest at their inhumane treatment by security guards during the No Borders demonstration on 8 April, 2006. A few months before that, in January 2006, there was a big, organised protest by detainees following the death of Bereket Yohannes, a 26-year-old Eritrean who was found hanged in the showers of Harmondsworth. Those deemed by the management to have been the organisers of the peaceful protest were punished by being locked up in 'secure cells' and later transferred to other detention centres. In 2004, there were similar riots sparked by the death of an inmate, causing a temporary closure of the detention centre and the 'transfer' of detainees to other immigration prisons.
Run by Kaylix (former UK Detention Services owned by Sodexho), Harmondsworth is the UK's biggest detention centre. Situated near Heathrow airport in London (to make deportations easier), it opened in September 2001. The centre can hold up to 550 men, women and children. According to the latest Home Office figures, there were 470 detainees in Harmondsworth as of 30 September, 2006, 345 of whom were asylum seekers.
The total number of detainees incarcerated in all 10 detention centres was 2,010, of whom 1,455 were asylum seekers, i.e. detained solely under the Immigration Act powers (note the Home Office no longer include persons detained in prison in the statistics). A total of 7,390 people left detention in Q2 2006, a fall of 1% from Q1 2006 (7,490). Of the 4,360 (59% of the total) asylum detainees leaving detention, 2,610 (60%) were 'removed' from the UK, 1,465 (34%) were granted temporary admission/release and 280 (6%) were bailed.
Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre 'Not fit for Purpose' | Noborders Demo at Harmondsworth Detention Centre | Harmondsworth Detainees Protest after Death in Detention | Severe riot at Harmondsworth refugee removal centre (2004) | Hunger Strike in Colnbrook Detention Centre | Voices From Detention | Asylum Statistics: Q3 2006 | Continuing conflicts that create refugees | Why campaign against deportation
detention centres: barbed-wire prisons
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
If you are a Students or staff of UK universities PLEASE SIGN and FORWARD TO YOUR FRIENDS:
A blog that deals with this issue and links the original journal article:
Article in the Guardian:
Low IQs are Africa's curse, says lecturer | UK News | The Observer
Last March Frank Ellis, a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies at Leeds University, supported publicly that black people are less intelligent than whites. He also believed that women did not have the same intellectual capacity as men and backed the 'humane' repatriation of ethnic minorities. Initially, the university backed Ellis, despite protests by students and teaching staff.
Monday, November 27, 2006
While almost no one can rob them of the outstanding praise many of their members earned for their heroism during 9/11, the institution as a whole has been steadily spiriling down and out-of-control, reminiscent of a “Serpico-Bladerunner” movie. Unfortunatly this tragic situation cannot be remedied because controling and greedy politicians cannot tarnish the very icon they have opportunistically elevated and manipulated. While law-enforcement was supposed to evolve in the U.S. as a tool of social-mitigation, in NY, the police is increasingly becoming a vehicle for focused social manipulation unleashed by a corporate-foci. This accusation of selective abuse and manipulation can be overwhelmingly detailed by events that unfolded during the RNC, where dissention was quarantied to back of the “Garden”, while those of us who refused to see our rights and speech dimmed where quashed by the NYPD, who were pumped by an 80 million dollar infusion. The NYPD used their media-machine to vilify important members of NY’s non-violent activist community and thus prepare the grounds for their orchestrated and deliberate abuses. Fabrication and perjury by the NYPD were systemitized during the RNC on a mass-scale. Though in normal criminal procedings, fabrication and the extensión of charges is normal in order to insure a procedure and outcome. Many of those take-in during the RNC expressed an tacit understanding of what many minorities go through in prison system overwhelmingly populated by Afro and Hispanic dissent, while benifiting from the selectiveness of the system. During the Puerto Rican day parade, a large group of young hispanics where arbitrarily in-mass arrested by the NYPD during their own parade, yet no civil-liberties champion intervened in their defense or the defense of civil liberties, thus evidencing an apartheid within a value system where the NYPD is an actor. One can pose the question whether if a disfunctional institution such as the NYPD been halted from exercising its rascist, intolerant, unlegal and unprofessional practices, would this have curtailed its abusive role during the RNC and permitted the anti-war movement from getting its message out, and helped save so many countless lives, while exposing the truth.
While the death of Sean Bell once again demonstrates the abusive and disfuncional nature of the NYPD, it also exposes a divide in which we live in. This is the true praxis of daily-living in NYC or the US, to say the least. Yet, at the core of this divide is the NYPD and the justice system. In a system where opportunities and castigation is stacked against “minorities”. What is most disturbing is that a tarnished and awry institution like the NYPD is permited such dominant role in interpreting free-speech. Much more dangerous and undemocratic than allowing the NYPD to review the exercise of free speech, is to allow them to interpret how it is exercised. The NYPD has continuously demonstrated a marked difference in their tolerance and interpretation of the exercise of free speech. Political speech suffers an acute interpretation, while that with comercial orientation recieves scant attention, when in a truely democratic society, political and esocteric speech would be ideally elevated to sanctity. Would there have been a revolution and a Bill of Rights if pamphleteers and town-hall assemblers had been required to apply for a permit to the English authorities. No doubt that spontinaity and collective effectiveness would definitly been adveresly affected. It clear that permitting police authorities to be conduits for the exercise of free speech is a sure way to insure social stasis. It is also a sure way to insure that discrimination and abuse to indure in a society.
The NYPD is not only permeated by unjust values, but also often commendered by priviledged and discriminating groups. However the NYPD can only be stripped of its abusive trappings and practices by acclaiming the universality of rights. The barrage of bullets that mowed Sean Bell down is an accent of what minority neighorhoods indure at the hands of the “finest”. It is miracle that nobody else was killed by such an execution of power. The reaction by the Mayor and the power-elite would have been different if this shoot-up had happened on the west or east side of central park, outside of a swanky bar, and a white yuppie brutrally eliminated. This difference in attitudes is why the NYPD excels at brutality amongst supposed democratic and advanced societies.
Timothy Thomas, 2001: Unarmed black teenager shot by white officer in Cincinnati while fleeing. Death sparked days of protest
Muñoz’ work for Telesur has been most notable for his investigations into the problem of forced displacement in the Colombian civil war. Before working for Telesur he was a reporter and editor for several commercial newspapers and televisions shows. A short comment from him was just broadcast on Colombian television, in which he says, “I am neither a terrorist nor a rebel. I would have no time for such things, I have dedicated my life to the work of journalism.”
A protest outside the DAS offices in Bogota has been called for tomorrow at 11 a.m. We’ll keep watching and reporting on this brazen attack against freedom of the press in Colombia.
Article by By Dan Feder
The following is the public communiqué issued by FREDY MUÑOZ from where he is being detained.
Dear colleagues and friends from throughout the world:
Once again, free and critical journalism is attacked by those who insist on subduing this journalism through the use of pressure, fear, lies, and force. On November 19, after having participated in a Telesur narrative audiovisual workshop by Michael Cowgan (a BBC journalist from North America) and Torry Zumbado (an independent cameraman from the war in Iraq), I returned to Colombia and was detained by the Colombian immigration offices, accused of rebellion and terrorism.
Hundreds of journalists from throughout the world, just as myself, have experienced this accusation, after US unilateralism decided to accuse to be terrorists those who oppose it with reason and arguments, and to exalt those who lower their heads, omit the crimes, and submit to it.
Colleagues and friends, from within this enclosed space, I send my message of thanks to all of you who continue to stake life and freedom in this vital profession, and in everyone else who engages with fervent struggle.
It is so ironic that while the judicial officers opened a file on me for charges very removed from the reality of my twelve years as a journalist, Colombian television transmitted a homage on the sacrificed Jaime Garzón, a journalist whose work aroused the rage and intolerance of a stubborn, detrimental authority, entrenched in the institutionality of the country.
The fact is a good journalist only knows how to speak and proclaim the truth; and, in our aggrieved Latin American countries, truth is the sun that reveals and removes men from the shadows.
Colleagues and friends, thank you again for adding my voice to yours. Thank you for insisting so that, even though these frame-ups occur so often, strength does not wane.
Thank you for teaching me not to falter, because performing journalism means making public what is not wanted to be known, everything else is propaganda. (Tayllerand)
With strong embrace,
Fredy Muñoz Altamiranda
Correspondent for Telesur in Colombia
November 20, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Please support the campaign by ANSWER coalition against racist Brutality by the Los Angeles Police.
Defend the Right to Free Speech and Assembly
Take action now - send a letter demanding that all charges be dropped against the anti-racist demonstrators falsely arrested by the LAPD.
After nearly two hours of peaceful protest, dozens of LAPD police in full riot gear instigated a wave of unprovoked violence on the progressive crowd. They pushed protestors, struck them with batons and wrestled several people to the ground while beating them brutally. Several ANSWER activists were brutalized and one was arrested because his friend was attempting to take photographs of riot police slamming a bystander against the back of a truck and hitting him with a baton. Top police brass later tried to justify their violence by saying protestors provoked the beatings by “crossing police lines" - an outright lie.
Take action now!
Click here to send a letter demanding that all charges be dropped against the anti-racist demonstrators falsely arrested by the LAPD.
People from the surrounding neighborhood stopped and shouted at the police to stop their rampage against the protest.
LAPD and Minutemen collaboration
The police arrested around six people without cause while the fascist Minutemen chanted “L-A-P-D,” cheering them on. It was a naked display of police and fascist collaboration. The outraged anti-immigrant crowd stood their ground and defended their demonstration while chanting “Cops and the Klan go hand in hand!” Carlos Alvarez, an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition, then gave an impassioned speech to denounce the LAPD's brutality and defend the rights of the protestors to demonstrate against the Minutemen.
Hundreds of cops escorted around 150 Minutemen down Hollywood Boulevard in their racist march, which was followed by progressive pro-immigrant rights demonstrators. Despite the efforts of the LAPD to impede the several hundred progressive demonstrators, including another wave of police violence, protestors outlasted the Minutemen and held a brief victory rally before marching to the ANSWER office less than one block away. Activists felt a sense of accomplishment and struggle after fending off police violence and maintaining an organized, successful action against the Minutemen.
Organizing to fight back
The ANSWER Coalition has vowed to respond swiftly to this vicious police attack. Along with its partners in the National Lawyers Guild and Latino Movement USA, ANSWER will host a press conference on Tuesday, July 12 (see below). Featured speakers will include immigrant rights organizers, ANSWER organizers and lawyers, victims of police brutality at the protest and others. There will be video footage shown that depicts the outrageous brutality of the cops that day. ANSWER and the NLG are vigorously defending the rights of the anti-racist protestors and plan to file a civil suit against the LAPD and the city - helmed by pro-police mayor Antonio Villaraigosa - because of this flagrant assault on people’s civil rights.
Muna Coobtee, member of the ANSWER steering committee in Los Angeles said: “This unprovoked, terrible assault on a peaceful protest violates our civil rights and is aimed at the heart of the immigrant rights movement. The police came to this demonstration today, in an alliance with ultra-right-wing elements, to try to beat back the struggle for equality. We can’t look at this incident in isolation from the overall political climate. We know that it is related to the racist raids launched by the federal government targeting undocumented workers. It is related to the bigotry being whipped-up by the immigration hearings happening all over the United States . Because these connections are clear, we can be clear in saying that these intimidation tactics won’t workthey will backfire. The immigrant workers’ movement will remain stronger and more united than ever before.”
The independent people’s movement will not tolerate the LAPD’s criminal behavior. Police repression and the Minutemen are part of the right-wing's ploy to defeat the just struggle of immigrants for amnesty and full legalization. All charges leveled at any anti-racist protestor must be dropped immediately. The LAPD and the city must be held accountable.
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER): LAPD brutality targets immigrant rights movement
Friday, November 24, 2006
Last Monday a declaration concerning the refugee protests in the Camp in Blankenburg (7 kilometers outside the City) passed the City Council of Oldenburg. In the declaration that is unanîmously (!) supported by all political parties it is said: ”The Gouvernment of Lower Saxony is asked to evaluate intensively the demands the inhabitants of ZAAB Blankenburg have put forward and make proposals for solutions. Most of all, the question of housing is to be discussed and the possibiliy of decentralized lodging should be considered. Also, the bureaucratic Gutschein-system is to be abolished.” Surprisingly, these formulations were even supported by the local CDU-members who are therefore openly opposing their own CDU-gouvernment in the State of Lower Saxony and the wellknown hardliner Minister of Interior Schünemann.
This (symbolic, but at least to some scale) concrete success in the local political scenery was followed by the decision fo the refugees in deportation camp Bramsche to go on strike themselves. Bramsche formally belongs to the ZAAB Blankenburg, in both camps accordingly to the authorities approx. 500 refugees live at the moment. After last weeks token strike there is now no time limit for the boycot of the cantine. This leads to the fact that the strikes in Blankenburg and Bramsche are fights against the Camp politics (of Lower Saxony) in general. The refugees in Bramsche have declared the same demands as the inhabitants of Camp Blankenburg. As the living conditions in both camps are quite similar and both institutions officially belong together the refugees in Bramsche also want to get involved in the round table talks that are going to take place in Oldenburg. Furthermore the refugees demand the closure of the cantine and the possibility to cook for themselves instead. The camp-school has to be closed and the children of the camp should go to regular schools. Last but not least the medical treatment should be appropriate, and doctors should be freely chosen.
For the strike in Bramsche money is urgently needed. Donations to AK Dritte Welt e.V., Konto-Nr. 015 131 337, BLZ 280 501 00, LZO, Verwendungszweck: Aktionstage
Demonstration on 9th of December 2006
Meeting point: Nordmarkt Dortmund, 13:00
deutsch - francais
On 14 April 2006, Dominique Kouamadio, a 23 year-old Congolese, was shot dead by a policeman in Dortmund. The owner of a kiosk had called the police because Dominique was standing in front of his kiosk window with a knife. At the time three police officers arrived by car, the situation was according to their own statements not threatening. Until today, it has not been clarified why the situation escalated: a policeman killed Dominique by two shots, fired directly after each other into his leg and into his heart. The public prosecutor's office in Dortmund opened an investigation against the police officer who fired the mortal shots, but dismissed the case because of supposed self-defence. Self-defence? Despite the fact that all eye witnesses give evidence of a distance of several meters between Dominique and the policeman who shot him!
Dominique's sister engaged the services of a lawyers? office to file an appeal against the dismissal of the case with the public prosecutor's office and together they demanded the bringing of an immediate charge of 'intentional homicide' in a press conference on 10 October 2006. Meanwhile the public prosecutor's office in Dortmund rejected the appeal and passed it on to the senior public prosecutor's office office in Hamm.
We demand the clarification of Dominique's death, as the officer who shot and killed Dominique mustn't go unpunished. Killings by the police mustn't be allowed to become normality. We also remind of Oury Jalloh who burnt to death in a police cell on 07/01/2005 and of many other victims of racist state violence.
We don't accept racism, exclusion, and inequality!
We demand a Complete clarification!
following organisations are calling for the demonstration: Dortmunder Arbeitskreis Flüchtlinge, Initiative gegen
Rassismus und Ausgrenzung Dortmund, Internationales Aktionbündnis Bochum/Ruhrgebiet, KARAWANE für die Rechte der Flüchtlinge und MigrantInnen Wuppertal/ NRW, Sozialforum Dortmund, AGIF - Föderation der ArbeitsmigrantInnen aus der Türkei in Deutschland.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
By Al Giordano
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Chiapas
November 13, 2006
Today, Monday, November 13, presumed paramilitaries committed a massacre in the Montes Azules jungle region of Chiapas, killing nine indigenous women and men and two children.
The assassinated, according to a hand-written document received by Narco News from inside Zapatista civilian communities in the region, are:
- Marta Pérez Pérez
- María Pérez Hernández
- María Nuñez González
- Petrona Nuñez González
- Pedro Nuñez Pérez
- Eliver Benítez Pérez
- Antonio Pérez López
- Dominga Pérez López
- Felicitas Pérez Parcero
- Noilé Benítez (8 años)
- A recently born infant yet to be baptized
The details of the massacre, in a very isolated area, far from urban and media centers, are still sketchy, but the warning signs that violence on this scale was brewing in the region have been known by state and federal officials all along. They were specifically warned by human rights organizations last July and August, but in lieu of taking positive action, their police and other agencies merely aggravated the problems since then.
The dead lived and worked in the Ejido Dr. Manuel Velasco Suarez II, known as Viejo Velasco Suárez, a farming community established in 1984 through an agreement with the Mexican government. They and their previous generations had lived in other parts of the Lacandon Jungle that, in 1972, had been declared a “nature preserve.” Then, as now, the ecological imprimatur turned out to have more to do with looting Mother Nature than protecting her: the creation of the Montes Azules biosphere served to grant the Mexican government monopoly control over exploitation of hardwoods and other natural resources. As part of the environmental show and simulation, 66 families of the Lacandon indigenous group – a population that today numbers in the hundreds, descendants of Maya peoples of the Yucatan Peninsula that had emigrated to Chiapas centuries ago – were declared sole stewards of more than 600,000 hectares of rainforest, but on the condition that they cede economic rights to the government over the land.
Since then, members of other Maya indigenous peoples – primarily Tzeltal and Chol – have lived under siege by the government, its police agencies, its Armed Forces, the Lacandones, and other communities of Tzeltales (from the town of Nueva Palestina) and Choles (from the town of Frontera Corrazal) that had allied with and benefited from the deal. The remaining indigenous communities in the region found themselves under permanent attack since then. Conflicts in the zone led to the 1984 agreement that created Viejo Velasco Suarez and other communally farmed communities, protected, supposedly, by law: Flor de Cacao, Nuevo Tila, Ojo de Agua and San Jacinto Lacanja, all in the same region as the world-renowned ancient Maya temples and ruins at Yaxchilán, near the gigantic Usamacinta River that is Mexico’s border with much of Guatemala.
The eleven deaths in today’s massacre come – as massacres often do – at a time when the Mexican federal government has returned to the bad old days of large scale repression (in Atenco last May, and in Oaxaca at present). At times like this, paramilitaries and police agencies are emboldened by the signals sent from the top, and increase their historic aggressions against those – especially indigenous – communities perceived as being in the way of economic interests.
The federal government of Vicente Fox and his Interior Minister Carlos Abascal (“the Butcher of Oaxaca”) was warned as recently as this year about the time bomb of violence threatening Viejo Velasco Suarez and the other communities in the Montes Azules regions.
On July 19 of this year, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center issued an alert titled “Threats of Eviction and Harrassment Against Indigenous Peoples in the Lacandon Jungle.” Known as “the Frayba Center,” this organization was founded by former Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruíz and is respected throughout the world as thorough and honest in its work.
The human rights organization alerted that it had received reports that:
“…on Saturday, July 14, the (state of Chiapas) Public Security police installed itself near the community of Ojo de Agua in El Progreso, threatening to violently evict the families of that community, families that are defending their right to the land as indigenous peoples… We who live in San Jacinto Lacanja, Flor de Cacao and Viejo Velasco are also threatened with eviction.”
The Frayba Center stated in its July 19 alert:
“In the opinion of Frayba this is an historic problem with a series of irregularities and clumsiness by institutions and functionaries that disregard previous agreements, manipulate parties to the conflict generating more problems, threaten violent eviction to force the communities and organizations to ‘sit down and negotiate” or don’t understand the commitments assumed during negotiations with the communities in dispute.”
The Frayba Center demanded that government authorities take measures to “guarantee the personal security and integrity of the families” of the four threatened indigenous communities, that they respect the 1984 agreement and others that granted them their lands, and that international treaties guaranteeing such protections for indigenous peoples be respected.
A few weeks later, representatives of that organization, together with a delegation of North Americans from Global Exchange, as well as the NGOs Maderas del Pueblo (“Hardwoods of the People”) and Xi’ Nich, went on a fact-finding mission to the afflicted communities. Global Exchange issued a detailed seven page report, which explains much of the background history of the conflict and, also, interestingly, the difficulties and obstacles presented to their attempts to visit the communities.
The report concluded:
“While the exact reasons for the exclusion of these four communities from the land legalization process are unclear, geographical and political factors offer an important clue. Three of the communities—Flor de Cacao, San Jacinto Lacanja, Ojo de Agua el Progreso—are located in a terrain where there are still precious woods that the Lacandon community wants to exploit, according to Miguel Angel García from Maderas del Pueblo. They are also on the banks of the Usumacinta River, one of the most important sources of pristine drinking water in the region. “Plan Puebla-Panama,” the government’s proposal for economic “modernization” for the country, also contemplates the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Usumacinta. Additionally, many of the individuals who testified believe the reason that the Lacandon community and comuneros want the land for themselves is so they can develop it for tourism purposes, as the archaeological site of Yaxchilan is located nearby, and the Lacandon community engages heavily in the tourism business. The fourth community, Viejo Velasco, because of its affiliations with the EZLN, also is likely perceived by the Mexican government to be an impediment to the maximization of profit. Indeed, shortly after our visit to El Desempeño, government officials violently evicted the EZLN civilian support base community Chol de Tumbala that was similarly in the process of securing their land claims. Federal, state, and local government officials should take immediate steps to guarantee the integrity and safety of Ojo de Agua El Progreso, Flor de Cacao, San Jacinto Lacanja, and Viejo Velasco. These communities are entitled—under both the covenant of 1984 and the agreements reached at the Limonar roundtable—to land security. The local, state, and federal government should immediately take action to stop the threatened illegal evictions and restore the families who have fled to their lands, if those families wish. Fairness and justice demand nothing less.”
The international human rights organization sent its findings to Mexican president Vicente Fox, his Interior Minister Carlos Abascal, to Chiapas Governor Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía and various bureaucrats under each of them.
Instead of taking action to correct the wrongs, the state and federal governments set in motion the events – and gave signals that would be received as impunity by the opponents of these communities that have violently threatened them – that brought about, today, the massacre of eleven indigenous civilians.
According to a hand-written chronology of the events since then, received today by Narco News, authored by members of the afflicted communities, the aggressions against them increased after the Fox and Salazar governments were informed:
- September 19: “At 4:30 p.m. comuneros from Nueva Palestina came armed with machetes, rifles, shovels, pickaxes and stones.” They destroyed the home of one family. At 8 p.m. they shot bullets into a building where women and children slept.
- October 4: Comuneros from Nueva Palestina attacked two farmers in their bean field with guns, destroying the crops.
- October 8: Members of the government-allied Nueva Palestina community met and agreed to attack the inhabitants Viejo Velasco Suarez.
- October 9: The attack was carried out and the home of one family razed; that afternoon they kidnapped a community member who was “seriously wounded” in the altercation.
And in another handwritten document sent to Narco News, dated Saturday, November 11, community members explain that the comuneros from Nueva Palestina shut off their water supply, leading the community of Viejo Velasco Suarez to turn the water back on and expel eleven of the occupying comuneros from their community. The document contains the names and signatures of the 11 men expelled.
“We ask the Palestinas, the state and federal governments, to respect this agreement to cease the violence in both parts of our community. We hold the government responsible for anything that happens…
“On Wednesday, November 1, 2006, the Palestinas began to close the tap for piped water through today, Saturday, November 11 of this year. That is why the original groups of this community take the following action… we totally disassociate ourselves from the Palestina groups and we don’t want them to keep harassing us in this community of Viejo Velasco, where each one of them signs his agreement to leave and to never return so as not to cause more problems with the original residents.”
According to an email just received from the families of the dead:
“The aggressors have been residents of the community of Nueva Palestina, and in common with the sad occurrences of the Acteal Massacre (of December 22, 1997, also in Chiapas) the families of the victims confirm that there are now various police roadblocks put up around them.”
According to a communiqué tonight from Maderas del Pueblo, the attackers were from Nueva Palestina, and they came at dawn: “four subcomuneros from the aggressor group who came to the community strongly armed with intentions of violently evicting the families that lived there.”
Two days later, today, six women, three men, and two children from this afflicted community are dead. At press time, various human rights organizations and the Good Government Council in Roberto Barrios of the civilian bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials), as well as the Other Journalism with the Other Campaign, are investigating the details of another massacre forewarned.
Narco News: Massacre in Chiapas: Six Women, Three Men, Two Children, Assassinated in Montes Azules