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: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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