Monday, December 29, 2008

The rains of death in Gaza

Originally uploaded by activestills

Arafat Hawadja, 20, is evacuated after he was injured from live ammunition shot by Israeli soldiers during a solidarity protest with the people in Gaza in the west bank village of Nilin. On the way to the hospital he died.
Photo by: Keren Manor/

The rains of death in Gaza

Originally posted on

We woke up this morning to the news in Gaza. It seems we always wake up to news there- so its become a matter of perspective how bad the news is each time; how remote it seems each time; how real or not; how severe-and whether the severity warrants an "international outcry" or whether the animals can continue to fester in their cages for a while longer.

We received a call from my in-laws in Lebanon's Baalbeck refugee camp at an early hour, checking in on my family in Gaza, since they cannot call them directly. We call my parents. My father does not answer. We call his mobile- we reach him. He has just returned from Shifa hospital- we hold our breaths.

"We are OK. We went to donate blood and to see if they needed any help" says my father, a retired surgeon.

"I was out in the souk when the strikes began- I saw the missiles falling and prayed; the earth shook; the smoke rose; the ambulances screamed" he said, the sirens audible in the background. he was on talateeni street at the time of the attacks, just a few streets down from one of the attack sites.

My mother was in the Red Crescent Society clinic near the universities at the time of the initial wave of attacks, where she works part-time as a pediatrician. Behind the clinic was one of the police centers that was leveled. She said she broke down at first, the sheer proximity of the attacks having shaken her from the inside out. After she got a hold of herself, they took to treating injured victims of the attack, before they transferred them to Shifa hospital.

There, she said, medical supplies were in short supply: face masks, surgical gloves, gowns...

My parents live in the the city center, and the Israeli war planes attacked people and locations all around them. Over 50 "targets"by 60 warplanes, read the headlines in Haaretz. And over 220 killed- in broad daylight; in the after-school rush.

Like a movie tagline. Or a game. If you say it enough times, it does not sound real anymore: 50 targets, 60 warplanes, 200 people, 1 day.

All very sanitary. Very sleek. Neatly packaged: war in a gift-box.

"There is a funeral passing every minute. The bodies are piling up." Gaza's air is saturated with the smell of burning human flesh. There is panic, as one would imagine dogs would panic in an overcrowded cell when several of their own are violently, abruptly killed. But dead dogs-in a cage, no less, would create an outcry.

The rains of death continue to fall in Gaza. And silently, we watch. and silently, governments plotted: how shall we make the thunder and clouds rain death onto Gaza? Egypt; the United States; Israel...

And it will all seem, in the end of the day, that they are somehow a response to something. As though the situation were not only acceptable- but normal, stable, in the period prior to whatever this is a response to. As though settlements did not continue to expand; walls did not continue to extend and choke lands and lives; families and friends were not dislocated; life was not paralyzed; people were not exterminated; borders were not sealed and food and light and fuel were in fair supply.

But it is the prisoners' burden to bear: they broke the conditions of their incarceration. They deviated. But nevertheless, there are concerns for the "humanitarian situation": as long as they do not starve, everything is ok. Replenish the wheat stocks immediately.

The warden improves the living conditions now and then, in varying degrees of relatively, but the prison doors remain sealed. And so when there are 20 hours of power outages in a row, the prisoners wish that they were only 8; or 10; and dream of the days of 4.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gaza massacres must spur us to action

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 27 December 2008

Palestinians carry the body of a victim of an Israeli air strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 27 December 2008. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

"I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing." Those were the words, spoken on Al Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defense official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as images of Israel's latest massacres were broadcast around the world.

A short time earlier, US-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of locations in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip killing at least 195 persons and injuring hundreds more. Many of these locations were police stations located, like police stations the world over, in the middle of civilian areas. The US government was one of the first to offer its support for Israel's attacks, and others will follow.

Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers. Among those Israel labels "terrorists" were more than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training. An as yet unknown number of civilians were killed and injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several dead children, and the Israeli attacks came at the time thousands of Palestinian children were in the streets on their way home from school.

Shmerling's joy has been echoed by Israelis and their supporters around the world; their violence is righteous violence. It is "self-defense" against "terrorists" and therefore justified. Israeli bombing -- like American and NATO bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is bombing for freedom, peace and democracy.

The rationalization for Israel's massacres, already being faithfully transmitted by the English-language media, is that Israel is acting in "retaliation" for Palestinian rockets fired with increasing intensity ever since the six-month truce expired on 19 December (until today, no Israeli had been killed or injured by these recent rocket attacks).

But today's horrific attacks mark only a change in Israel's method of killing Palestinians recently. In recent months they died mostly silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of food and necessary medicine by the two year-old Israeli blockade calculated and intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority refugees and children, caged into the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, Palestinians died silently, for want of basic medications: insulin, cancer treatment, products for dialysis prohibited from reaching them by Israel.

What the media never question is Israel's idea of a truce. It is very simple. Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonize their land. Israel has not only banned food and medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.

As John Ging, the head of operations of the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), told The Electronic Intifada in November: "there was five months of a ceasefire in the last couple of months, where the people of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our supplies were also restricted during the period of the ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of closure we ran out of food."

That is an Israeli truce. Any response to Israeli attacks -- whether peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in Bilin and Nilin in the West Bank is met with bullets and bombs. There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel's attacks, killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never ceased for one single day during the truce. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has acceded to all of Israel's demands, even assembling "security forces" to fight the resistance on Israel's behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian or her property or livelihood from Israel's relentless violent colonization. It did not save, for instance, the al-Kurd family from seeing their home of 50 years in occupied East Jerusalem demolished on 9 November, so the land it sits on could be taken by settlers.

Once again we are watching massacres in Gaza, as we did last March when 110 Palestinians, including dozens of children, were killed by Israel in just a few days. Once again people everywhere feel rage, anger and despair that this outlaw state carries out such crimes with impunity.

But all over the Arab media and internet today the rage being expressed is not directed solely at Israel. Notably, it is directed more sharply than ever at Arab states. The images that stick are of Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni in Cairo on Christmas day. There she sat smiling with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Then there are the pictures of Livni and Egypt's foreign minister smiling and slapping their palms together.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported today that last wednesday the Israeli "cabinet authorized the prime minister, the defense minister, and the foreign minister to determine the timing and the method" of Israel's attacks on Gaza. Everywhere people ask, what did Livni tell the Egyptians and more importantly what did they tell her? Did Israel get a green light to turn Gaza's streets red once again? Few are ready to give Egypt the benefit of the doubt after it has helped Israel besiege Gaza by keeping the Rafah border crossing closed for more than a year.

On top of the intense anger and sadness so many people feel at Israel's renewed mass killings in Gaza is a sense of frustration that there seem to be so few ways to channel it into a political response that can change the course of events, end the suffering, and bring justice.

But there are ways, and this is a moment to focus on them. Already I have received notices of demonstrations and solidarity actions being planned in cities all over the world. That is important. But what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?

Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it "called upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it."

The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine ( provides the framework for this. Now is the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term commitment to make sure we do not wake up to "another Gaza" ever again.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).

Christmas 2008

Protest against the apartheid wall, Bilin, Palestine, 26/12/2008.
Originally uploaded by activestills

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bush in Baghdad: "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog"

15 December 2008. A World to Win News Service. U.S. President George W. Bush made a surprise visit to Baghdad to say farewell to the country his government raped. The highlight, a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, was touted as proof of the improved situation for the occupation.

Just as Bush concluded his remarks, a young Iraqi journalist in the audience stood up and hurled a shoe at the U.S. president, shouting, "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog!" Then he threw the other shoe, adding, "This is from the widows, the orphans and all those who were killed in Iraq!" Bush ducked and the shoes hit the U.S. and Iraqi flags behind his head.

Hitting someone with the sole of your shoe is an extreme insult in the Arab world. All Iraqis remember the way people pounded Saddam Hussein's statue and portraits with their shoes when he went down.

The journalist, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, was present as an accredited correspondent for a satellite television station that broadcasts from Cairo, and had passed a U.S. Secret Service background check. His family was known to have suffered arrests under the regime of Saddam Hussein. He was said to have been deeply shaken by the American outrages at Abu-Ghraib, and then by the dead children he saw as a reporter on the scene during the U.S. bombing of the Sadr City slums last March. His employer described him as a "proud Arab and an open-minded man."

Bush made light of the incident. "This is what happens in a free society," he said. People in Iraq were not so convinced about the "freedom" the U.S. has brought Iraqis. U.S. Secret Service agents and Iraqi security guards could be seen beating Zaidi in the press conference room and he could be heard yelling “My hand, my hand.” Apparently the beating continued out of sight in the next room. His brother told BBC that he had suffered a broken hand, broken ribs, an eye injury and internal bleeding.

The 28-year-old journalist wasn't speaking just for himself. Two other reporters present were also arrested and beaten after his act, reportedly for remarking that it was courageous.

The next day thousands of people marched in the capital's Sadr City, Najaf and Basra, brandishing shoes and demanding his release. Since then some Iraqis have taken to throwing shoes at passing American patrols. Support for him is said to be overwhelming among Iraqis, crossing religious and ethnic lines among all those opposed to the occupation.

He has been taken as a role model by other journalists across the Middle East. Many are wondering, half seriously, if from now on press conferences with American officials will be "socks only". Among the hundreds of lawyers who have volunteered to defend Zaidi, some are reportedly Americans. Many comments on the Al Jazeera Web site posted from the U.S., Canada and Europe said Zaidi spoke for them and “simple folk across the planet.” Tens of thousands of people have joined Facebook groups set up on the Web in his support.

Zaidi’s brother said he was outraged by the U.S.-Iraqi Status of Forces treaty (see AWTWNS 27 October) whose signing Bush came to Baghdad to celebrate. Part of what’s fuelling a new swell of popular anger in Iraq is that Bush may be saying goodbye, but the U.S. occupation does not seem about to end. In the days before the press conference, U.S. commanding general Ray Odierno, on whose judgment incoming president Barack Obama says he will rely, announced that although the treaty promises that American troops will withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns after June 2009, he intends to keep "thousands" in the capital and other urban centres by re-labelling them "enablers" rather than combat forces. He suggested that the Iraqi government might later change the treaty and allow the U.S. to remain for years to come after the 2011 deadline it calls for. Speaking in favour of that idea, a spokesman for the Maliki government guessed that might mean another decade of occupation.

UK: When is murder not murder?

15 December 2008. A World to Win News Service. A jury considering the case of the police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in the London Underground in July 2005 has rejected the claim that the shooting was "lawful". Because the coroner, the official in charge of the jury, had instructed its members that they could not rule his death "unlawful", their only alternative to accepting the authorities’ story was to return an open verdict that did not declare the police innocent. The jury slapped the authorities in the face as hard as they could under the circumstances. But although the government did not get the stamp of approval on the killing it sought, the jury decision fixes no blame or penalty for the killing. The government is hoping that like the previous Independent Police Complaints Commission report, this verdict will not have any practical consequences, other than to bolster the false claim that justice has been done. The family says it hopes to pursue further legal action.

The police killed the 27-year-old de Menezes on 22 July 2005, the day after an apparent failed bombing attack on the London Tube system and two weeks after bombs murdered 52 people on the capital's trains and buses. The police claimed that they mistook de Menezes for a suspect, and that they shot him because they feared he might be carrying a bomb. After a three-month inquest, the jury concluded that the police were not telling the truth when they claimed that he had acted suspiciously as police followed him, that he had failed to respond to a warning (there was not a single word or gesture) and that at the last minute he moved toward armed officers in a threatening way that left them with no choice but to shoot him. Nothing de Menezes had done, the jury decided, merited alarm.

The bigger lies about de Menezes were not on trial. After he was killed, the head of the police, appointed by the government's Home Secretary, first claimed he was a terrorist, even though he knew almost immediately that the Brazilian was not the suspected man. When this lie collapsed, he argued that the killing was a tragic but justified accident, a decision to shoot that turned out to be wrong but was based on what the police believed to be true at the time. Officials falsely claiming that the dead man had been wearing a suspiciously heavy coat in the summer, with wires visibly sticking out from under it, that he had an expired visa and cocaine in his blood, that he ran away from the police following him and jumped the turnstile, that he fled onto a train before they could stop him, etc. It was not until someone delivered a package of CCTV footage to the media – surveillance camera film that the police had claimed didn't exist – that it came out that the lightly-dressed young man had calmly walked into the station, collected a newspaper, used his pass, walked normally onto the platform, boarded the train and sat down just like anyone else. This no longer deniable exposure is what made the coroner's inquest necessary if any pretence of justice was to be maintained.

Much of the media have blamed the killing on police incompetence. Now, after the jury verdict, this is the state's only feasible defence in the court of public opinion. Much has been made about the police story that a series of errors on their part kept them from stopping de Menezes on the many streets he travelled on foot and by bus before he got to the Clarkwell Tube station. But if incompetence explains what happened, why were the police officers and their leadership praised and rewarded instead of punished or even chastised? The shooters are back on duty, now protected by a rule that they cannot be prosecuted for killing people legally or illegally. The man in charge of the surveillance team that supposedly misidentified de Menezes and then failed to stop him was promoted to the rank of deputy assistant commissioner. Sir Ian Blair, head of Scotland Yard, the Metropolitan Police commissioner who publicly led the cover-up, was given a £400,000 "golden handshake" when he resigned. Cressida Dick, the senior commander in charge of the operation, who gave all the orders for everything that happened minute by minute, was also promoted and is now a leading candidate to replace him. The Labour government and the state as a whole have rendered their own verdict: these officials and employees did what they were supposed to do.

Although the facts have come out in the UK media, mainstream commentators are not looking at this incident very deeply or in context, and therefore even when outraged, have no real explanation. The killing and the cover-up are grounded in the UK's decision to join the U.S. in invading Afghanistan and then Iraq.

Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair "took the country into war on a false prospectus", as leaked official records later revealed. Blair tried to terrorise the public into backing the war that he and U.S. President George W. Bush had been secretly planning since mid-2002. He knowingly told a series of lies, including the infamous claim that Iraq was threatening the UK with rockets tipped with weapons of mass destruction that could hit London within 45 minutes. The war became hugely unpopular in the UK, sparking the biggest demonstrations the country had ever seen. When bombs carried by British-born Islamic fundamentalists killed London commuters in July 2005, many people saw it as "blowback" – the result of British aggression abroad (and oppression of immigrants at home), and they blamed Tony Blair for it. This was a critical moment for the British ruling class. Without exaggerating the situation, it can be said that no recent British government had been not only so hated by many millions but also so isolated from public opinion as a whole. And never before had such a harsh light been cast on the lie that in countries like the UK elections mean rule by the people and not dictatorship by the imperialist capitalist class.

The way the state limited the possible verdicts in this trial also stands as an exposure of the dictatorship behind the UK justice system, since the jury decision basically means that the police killed a man for no good reason and then lied about it, but that there's nothing that ordinary people can do about that. What was the point of holding a jury at all if it was only allowed to act within the limits set by the accused – the state? The UK electoral process acts within similar limits, which is why the opinion of the overwhelming majority of people has not been able to stop the war.

At the time of the 14 July 2005 bombings, Blair declared that anyone linking them with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was "giving support to the terrorists" and flirting with treason. Just as he had falsely claimed that the UK joined the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in its own self-defence, now he tried to reverse black and white and claim that the basic problem was not that Great Britain is an imperialist country currently helping the U.S. rampage through the Middle East, creating a just hatred that might be unjustly aimed at the British people, but that people in and from the Middle East and other immigrants are terrorising the UK, and that the population should allow the state to do whatever it claimed was in their defence, including a whole set of police state-like measures. "The rules of the game have changed," Blair decreed just before de Menezes was killed. Clearly this was meant as a very broad threat, and not just against suicide bombers and other reactionaries.

The coroner in charge of the jury, former high court judge Sir Michael Wright, defended his instructions to the jury forbidding them to call this a case of unlawful killing by arguing that no "reasonable person" could conclude that the state had deliberately set out to cut down de Menezes. But whether or not the government and the police deliberately set out to pump seven bullets into the head of this particular person is not really the issue.

In the political atmosphere of July 2005, the government (and not just the police) had every reason to create a climate of hysteria among the people and to demonstrate the strength and ruthless determination of the state. Their response was to stage a public execution. Even if they didn't set out to kill this particular unwhite immigrant, any reasonable person would ask: wasn't the government out for blood and did they really care whose?

We don't forget, we don't forgive any state murder



Alexandros Grigoropoulos
Alexandros Grigoropoulos - killed by police 6th of December 2008

Due to the 15 years' old, Alexis Grigoropoulos cold murder by a policeman of the special forces on Saturday 6/12/2008 at Exarheia, one of the biggest social rebellions was triggered off. From the first moment the centre of Athens is shocked by spontaneous, massive riots against the repression forces, attacks to state and capitalist targets,occupation of universities and massive demonstrations. Automatically, the revolt spreads like wild fire in 33 greek cities and is accompanied by a dynamic wave of protests and solidarity movements ina many cities all over Europe and the globe. Students all over the country squat in streets acting self-organized and away from any guidance and hierarchy, alarm local neighbourhoods with their chants, set up barricades, march on the streets and attack the Police Departments.
The people's rage exceeds the lead of any political party, away from self-righteous ideologies and with a way even though not always (publicly) accepted definately justified, which destroys, like a fist, the system's "display".

Against the pervasive social rage, the state replies with "zero tolerance", hardcore repression, 4.600 chemical gases (tear, mustard, and asphyxiate gases in 5 days period), beatings and hundreads of arrests showing its "democratic" face and condemning in hypocricy the social reaction. One reaction which consists of a response to a violent state which the system reproduces every day. The vissible effect of the Police terror-state in the streets, surveillance cameras in public and working areas; parental, teacher,
CEO and policemen oppression, low health and safety measures, tortures and murders of immignats inside police departments and in and out the geographical country boarders, villain "behaviour" of the banking system,
reccession and general commercialism of every mean of our lives, poverty and toil of the repressed masses, discrimination, dectruction of the Nature in order to produce more and so that the M.Ps gather more money in their pockets(that is what is all about in Greece). This premature capitalist system is based on competition and inequality, oppression and exploitation, subjugation and ellimination of all left liberties. If that is your democracy, thanks but we won't take it...
To justify all the above, the violence targeted from the bottom, will always be the fair of rebel resistance.

Such social unrest was reasonable to meet the rabid suppression both from the side of the state and by the side of the individualist logic that has spread to wider social strata.
Hundreds of transfers of alleged suspects, hundreds of arrests of unruly people.
The security forces also found a good opportunity to arrest and torture dozens of immigrants, highlighting their Fascist face, in close cooperation with the media, displaying immigrants once again as a threat to the public.
While the mass arrests occur, most of them involving pupils and immigrants, facing criminal penalties of terrorist law. 15 years old children and impoverished immigrants accused of gang recommendation and terrorist organization!
Another design and sovereign legislative effort to make social movements look like crimes.
Disregarding the political dimension of all this mobilizing, trying to overcome the separation of State-society, devising a new × society opposed to those who want to change.
They keep criminalizing the solidarity of the social rage, imposing penalties devastating, while they catalyze any notion of law (the accused have no access to lawyers and there is no limit on remand).The new doctrine is now as follows: «Those who congregate are guilty until proven otherwise...».

As long as there are insurgents and disobidience there will always be repressed , <> and paramilitar minions would be willing to serve the purposes of power.
That is another chance so we can observe the disorientating purpose by the Means of Mass Domestication. From the first moment after the murder of the 15 years old Alexis they' ve tried to contaminate the opionion of the ostracism of the bullet, as always giving full weight to what the body of law and order wants to pass. In the name of the spectacle they are trying to redirect the attention of society in secondary and distorted by the fact incidents detaching us from the substance. In the same way, they show the destruction of the Police Departments. , multinationals corporations, banks the huge department stores, the temples of consumerism and profit (these targets legally steal the vast majority of the society), as looting the low badget shop of the poor jobber. The pimp journalists who faithfully serve the dictates of the system are trying to show these spontaneous conflict of pupils, students, workers, unemployed, immigrants and generally of any repressed individual, as a simple wave of anger and relief youth, and here is in fact a complex development with social and political features, uttering settled and raised new demands. A week later, although Alexanders' murderer claims innocent and riots in the streets are resuming, some are still talking about ostracisms, isolated incidents, misunderstandings to justify the unjustifiable, and to defuse the situation to fizzle out, make us forget and return to normality and our routine, as it always suits for them.
But we do not bite...

In order not to elliminate the current "bad" government to elect another parliamental power, we believe to the continuation of the struggle to overthrow the entire system for granted. Outbreaks of resistance are creating in neighborhoods, decentralizing our action, urging everyone to not remain passive viewer to the events, believing that that situation does not have to do with every individuality and that and that all incidents occur just in the city centre.
Actually expressing our solidarity with the occupied spaces(ΑΣΟΕΕ, Law School, Polytechnic School, Agios Demitrios Town Hall, Ioannina Town Hall) we have decided on Friday 12/12/08 to squat the Ex-Town Hall of the city Halandri(venue of the city council) to turn it into space of uncompromized information and decentralized core of struggle and further activities.
A self-organized place where the residents of Halandri and the surrounding areas can decide in open, fair and anti-hierarchical meetings.




Thursday, November 27, 2008

Call for Demonstration of the upcoming closing of the legal proceedings for the murder of Oury Jalloh

A Video Tribute in Memory of Oury Jalloh & Call for Demonstration of the upcoming closing of the legal proceedings for the murder of Oury Jalloh.

Closing arguments: 2nd and 5th of December (Rallies will be held outside of the court) Verdict to be read by Judge Steinhoff: 8 December (Rally and demonstration)

Oury Jalloh Initiative Rally and demonstration, 8 December 2008 in Dessau

09:00Uhr Rally
11:30 Press Conference
12:00 Demo
Landgericht Dessau Willy-Lohmann-Str. 29

On January 7, 2005, Oury Jalloh and Layé Konde, both of Africa, lost their lives at the hands of the German police. This video tells the story of how Oury Jalloh burned alive while chained at hands and feet to a fireproof mattress in Cell No. 5 of the police station in Dessau, Germany.

Even until today, the authorities have sustained the thesis that Oury Jalloh set himself on fire. Refugee, migrants and anti-racists supporters have fought hard for the last 34 months to see that justice is done. Although successful in forcing a trial, the proceedings have been plagued with racism, cover-up, complacency, bias and impunity. It still remains a mystery just how exactly the fire in Cell No. 5 actually started.

After almost 60 hearings, the trial is now slowly coming to an end, with the verdict expected on December 8th. The only outcome which can be expected is the continued injustice which has characterized both this case as well as the treatment of refugees and migrants in general.

Nevertheless, the struggle continues and, perhaps with your support, we will still see that the truth is made known, that justice is done, and that the family of Oury Jalloh is compensated for having tragically lost the life of their beloved son.

But however the outcome, the struggle itself is already a victory for all of those who have fought and continued to fight it.


Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh

The VOICE Refugee Forum

Caravan - for the rights of refugees and migrants

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Afghan refugee speaks about situation in Greece

Greek authorieties neglect all international standards on asylum. The treatmrnt of refugees is completley arbitrary. Instead of being granted safety from persecution many refugees get imprisoned. An Afghan refugee managed to speak out from inside Patras prison.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stop the deathtrap at EU borders!

Appeal: Stop the deathtrap at the EU borders!

We demand:

  • Stop the deathtrap at the EU borders! FRONTEX activities which violate human rights must cease!
  • Human life must be saved. If someone is in danger of drowning before our eyes, we must help.
  • Refugees must be protected. Access to fair asylum procedures in Europe must be guaranteed. The Geneva Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights must be upheld.
Support the demands of the appeal with your signature

Year by year thousands die at Europe´s borders: Stop the deathtrap at the EU borders!

In search of a dignified life thousands of refugees and migrants die at the borders of Europe. These are people who are driven from their homelands by war, persecution, violence and miserable living conditions. In order to escape they squeeze into tiny boats, hide in lorries, sleep in very basic campsites or in front of high security border controls. Drowning, suffocation or dying of thirst are frequent occurrences. Many die of exhaustion.

Germany and other EU states react towards those seeking protection at its borders with armed resistance and deterrence. Humiliation and abuse, even extending to illegal rejection at the borders, have frequently been reported. The EU founded border security agency, FRONTEX, operates in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic with disregard for refugee and human rights. Refugee boats are pursued and driven away. Protection seekers are therefore forced to take more dangerous escape routes. This increases the risk of death en route. The Mediterranean and parts of the Atlantic are developing into zones exempt from human rights.

The activities of FRONTEX are made possible by the active and financial involvement of the EU Member states. In 2008 alone 70 million euro of tax money in Europe will be used for this purpose.

The European citizens must not turn a blind eye to the activities of FRONTEX which disregard human rights and to the illegal rejection of refugees. Please join us in signing this appeal, to be publicised by PRO ASYL and other human rights organisations throughout Europe.

Appeal "Stop the deathtrap": Download


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tunisia: the dictatorship south of Lampedusa

by gabriele del grande
TUNIS – Trade unionists arrested and tortured. Protesters shot dead by police during demonstrations. Journalists in jail. And a great censorship to prevent the spread of protests and protect the international image of a country which was visited by 6.7 millions tourists just in 2007. We are speaking about Tunisia. A country which is also known for his emigration. Since many years, thousands of Tunisians cross the Mediterranean towards to the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria. During the first half of 2008 some 1,287 Tunisian landed on the Italian shores. They look for a better life. But what do they leave behind? To understand what Tunisia has become, we visited one of its hottest regions. The mining area of Gafsa, 400 km southwest of Tunis. Here it started - ten months ago - the most important social movement of the Country during the last 20 years. A spontaneous and popular movement which keep on struggling despite the repression and censorship.

The region of the mines looks like a lunar landscape. But under the grey mountains among Moularès, Redeyef, Mdhilla and Metlaoui there is a treasure: 600 millions tons of phosphate. The mines are held by the public Phosphate company of Gafsa (CPG). In 2008 the price of a ton of phosphate rock has doubled because of the growing demand of fertilizers in China and India. Tunisia is the fifth producer in the world and has still reserves for the next 100 years. Yet the region of Gafsa is one of the poorest. The technical modernization of mining reduced by 55% the number of employees in the past 20 years, from 11,000 to 5,000. And it caused a serious economic crisis in the towns of miners, built from scratch during the French colonization to house the workforce in the early twentieth century. Today, unemployment affects 40% of young people. Young people who often have no other way out except burning the borders, as they say in Arabic. Harrag. Towards Libya and then Lampedusa. It was them the young people who started the protest ten months ago.

In was on January 5, 2008, in Redeyef, a town of 37,000 inhabitants. The CPG published the results of a public examination for the recruitment of 80 employees. But the list was considered fraudulent. The young unemployed rebelled and occupied the secretariat of the regional miners' union (Ugtt), considered to be involved in the scandal. They were soon joined by 11 widows who asked CPG for respecting the quota allotted to the sons of deaths at work. The other sections of the Trade union joined the protesters. Meanwhile in Tunis, a national committee of solidarity with the people of the mines was created. On April 4 a day of solidarity was held in Tunis, with the participation of some trade unionist from Redeyef. But on their return, the morning of April 7, they were arrested together with dozens of activists. Among them there was also Adnan Hajji, the secretary of the union of teachers in Redeyef.

The same day the city's teachers suspended classes and called for a general strike that lasts for the following three days. On April 9 around thirty women descended to the streets asking for the freedom of their husbands. The city joins them and hundreds of people marched towards the prefecture. The day after, the trade unionists were released. At their arrival into the city, a crowd of 20.000 people welcomed their new leader, Adnan Hajji.

Meanwhile some solidarity initiatives started also in France, organized by Tunisian migrants, especially in Nantes, where a large community from Redeyef lives. In the mining area demonstrations went on. On May 6, 2008, Hicham Ben Jeddou died from electrical shock while a group of young unemployed occupied the generator of Tabeddit in sign of protest. Witnesses accused police of having turned on electricity knowing that he was touching the wires. It was the beginning of the repression.

Adnan HajjiReinforcements were sent from Tunis to the mining area. Police checked all the accesses to Redeyef. And plainclothes agents monitored the main actors of the protest. On June 6, police opened fire on a demonstration. A guy, Hafnaoui Maghzaoui, was shot dead. And 27 people were injured. One of them, Abdelkhaleq Aamidi, died after three month in hospital, on September 14. Within a few weeks, two hundred people were arrested. Trade unionists as well as ordinary people. The night between June 21 and 22 the leader of the protest Adnan Hajji was arrested again.

Zakiya DhifaouiThe movement was beheaded. But no woman was arrested. And so the women, the wives of trade unionists and activists in jail, returned on the streets, on July 27, demanding the release of prisoners. Among them there was also Zakiya Dhifaoui. Born in 1966, she is journalist and teacher. She came from Kairouan to write a report on the opposition newspaper Muatinun. But her report will never be published. Because that day Dhifaoui was arrested. Her arrest was a message sent to all the Tunisian journalists: don’t come to Redeyef and don’t write about it. It is the other side of the repression: the censorship of any sensitive information. Dhifaoui was sentenced to four and a half months of prison. But she is not the only journalist in jail. Actually it is the freedom of expression itself to be judged.

The web sites Dailymotion and Youtube, where the videos of the demonstrations and of the police violences have been uploaded, are banned since November 2007. Masoud Romdhani, spokesman of the National solidarity movement, has been beaten by plainclothes agents in Tunis. Amor Gondher, journalist of the opposition newspaper Tareq el Jedid, was beaten by two policemen on the evening of June 26, in Nefta. Boulqaddous Fahim, a journalist of El Hiwar TV - which published the video of Redeyef on the Italian satellite channel Arcoiris - is reported to be missing since July 5, as he run away in order to escape his arrest warrant. The author of those videos, Mahmoud Raddadi, had been arrested on June 21. Raddadi and Boulqaddous will soon be judged together with 38 other protesters, including 14 trade unionists. They are accused to have formed a combination for unlawful purposes. The hearing will begin at the end of November at the Court of Gafsa.

TunisiWithout any doubt this is one of the greatest political trial under the presidency of Ben Ali . A presidency which has been lasting uninterrupted since 1987. In November 2009, there will be the presidential elections. The deaths of Redeyef will not be enough to undermine the power of the Constitutional Democratic Party (RDC). Nor to revive the opposition after years of repression of dissent. The defense lawyers know it, that the judgement has already been written. But in the history there is an accumulation... says one of them under anonymity. Actually the Tunisian poet Abou el Kacem Chebbi, told it a century ago: "When people choose life, fate must respond, night must brighten and chains must break".

Tunisian economy rose by 6,3% in 2007. The average income per person is 2,400 euro per year, 4,8% more than in 2007. The inflation in august 2008 was at 5,4%. The unemployment is around 14,2%, but in Redeyef it arrives to the 40%
During 2007 the Cpg produced 8 millions tons of phosphate. The mines were discovered by the French in 1897. The cost of one ton increased from 40 dollars in 2007 to 130 in 2008
Tourism revenue reached a record 1.6 billion euro in 2007 as the number of tourists reached 6.7 million visitors. Tourism revenue rose 9% in the first nine months 2008
More than 100,000 Tunisian live in Italy. In the first half 2008, 1,287 Tunisian arrived by boat in Sicily. Among the 40 victims of the Marche 19, 2008 shipwreck, some came from Metlaoui

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Berlin - Demo for freedom of movement

BICYCLE DEMONSTRATION FOR FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT - Saturday, 8. November 2008, from 10 a.m.

On the 8th November we will bring the bicycles that are fixed till then to Hennigsdorf with a bicycle demonstration, and demonstrate for freedom of movement for everyone and the abolishment of the "Residenzpflicht".

We meet on Saturday at 10 a.m. in front of the Schwarzer Kanal, Michaelkirchstraße 20 (> map).
At 11 a.m. we drive with the demonstration through the centre of Berlin and then northeastwards to Hennigsdorf, where we will have the final rally on the Postplatz at 2 p.m..
The demonstration route is approximately 25 km long. More information on the route and demonstration are soon to be published on this site.

In Hennigsdorf we will hand the bicycles over to the inhabitants of the refugee home. Afterwards there will be antiracist shopping, where the refugees can change their coupons into cash.

We are still searching for people who would drive one of the bicycles to Hennigsdorf within the demonstration. Please write us to for better coordination.
If you want to participate in the antiracist shopping, please write no later than Tuesday 11-04 to for how much money you plan to shop. We need to tell the inhabitants of the home in advance, how many coupons we will be able to exchange.

Return to Berlin: People from Berlin can return with the S-Bahn (S 25) from Hennigsdorf after the rally or the atiracist shopping.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Katzhütte makes you sick

The authorities of Saalfeld (Thüringen/East Germany) are forcing a pakistani women to life with her two sons in the isolation camp of Katzhütte since many years . Ameen her younger boy suffers from autism and needs special care. But the authorities ignore the medical attestation and dump the child in the mountain.

Solidarity with the Cane Cutters Strike in Colombia

On on 14th Oct 2008 is the 28th day of the sugar cane cutters strike in the departments of Valle del Cauca and Cauca – Colombia- and with no glimpse of an agreement in sight. We have send several proposals to ASOCAÑA and its affiliated ingenios, [a corporation sugar mill or refinery with feeder plantations] and but these continue denying a response to the workers petitions and the start of negotiations with the unions (SINALTRAINAL, SINALCORTEROS and the CENTRAL UNITARIA DE TRABAJADORES -CUT).

Álvaro Uribe Vélez’s government continues attacking the dispute. On 9 October a STATE OF INTERNAL COMMOTION was declared, through which they will try and break the labour conflicts, repress the workers and continue with the process of annihilating social organizations, with the argument that these are issues of public order that put the national security at grave risk. .

We have obtained good solidarity for the cane cutters, but their situation is getting more difficult by the day, and funds are falling with 12,500 workers and their families to feed. As far as the familes are concerned, the situation is much more serious given that there are insufficient resources to cater for around 60.000 people that cannot provide themselves with the basic necessities of food and medical attention.

Solidarity IS URGENT. The masters of the ingenios want to defeat the strike by HUNGER. There is no food or medicine in the homes of the cutters. With the solidarity of organizations, committees, national and international collectives, religious communities and democratic people we can move ahead to overcome this challenge that the bosses and the Colombian state have placed before us, and find a solution to the dispute.

Economic solidarity can be sent to:

Dollar Receipts: Banco de Colombia Savings Account No 039277631-08
Código ABA : 21000089 Código SWIFT: CITIUS33

Intermediary Bank: Citybank of New York

Euro Receipts: Banco de Colombia Savings Account No 039277631-08
IBAN Code: (International Bank) DE89500700100951331800

Once you have made a transfer of funds send a confirmation note by fax to us in Bogotá, number 0057 1 3776136. Sinaltrainal

Send protests to:

Álvaro Uribe Vélez. President of Colombia . Esta dirección de correo electrónico está protegida contra los robots de spam, necesita tener Javascript activado para poder verla

Diego Palacio B. Minister of Social Protection Esta dirección de correo electrónico está protegida contra los robots de spam, necesita tener Javascript activado para poder verla

Luís Fernando Londoño Capurro. President of Asocaña. Esta dirección de correo electrónico está protegida contra los robots de spam, necesita tener Javascript activado para poder verla

Monday, October 06, 2008

Six Deaths by Eviction in Chiapas Ejido

They were attacked by state and federal police, according to an ejido representative. Ten wounded and thirty detained reported.

by Elio Henriquez, correspondent for La Jornada
translation and update by Kristin Bricker

Miguel Hidalgo invasionMiguel Hidalgo Ejido, Chiapas. State and federal police shot and murdered six peasants from this ejido [communally owned land] in La Trinitaria county, which for almost a month has controlled the Chinkultic archaeological ruins, located three kilometers from the ejido.

Jose Velazquez, one of the ejido representatives, stated to the press that the incidents that occurred in the ejido late Friday night resulted in over ten wounded and more than thirty people detained who are recovering in a hospital in the city of Comitan.

Blood trails, scatted spent high-caliber casings, and bullet holes could be seen in the streets and in some houses.

"It seemed like the police were on drugs because they indiscriminately beat children, women, and elderly people, and that's not right," said Velazquez.

When the first four cadavers arrived Saturday morning, the families of the dead demanded justice "or we'll take it into our own hands."

The names of the dead peasants are reported to be Ricardo Ramírez Hernández, Ignacio Hernández López, Rigoberto López Vázquez, Alfredo Hernández Ramírez, Miguel Antonio Martínez, and Agustín Alfaro Calvo.

Velazquez said that when faced with the "aggression," the residents detained and disarmed 77 police who had entered the community presumably to detain the local authorities. Six thousand people live in the community.

The community still has the police weapons in its possession.

"They came to attack us without cause, because they were already in discussions to try to resolve the ruins problem" which are located nine kilometers from the Lakes of Montebello, he said.

He noted that the residents of Miguel Hidalgo took over the ruins because the government "has left them abandoned and because it's only right that the resources that come from the operation of the ruins stay with us."

On Saturday there were at least eight police vehicles which were damaged by the peasants who, enraged by the death of their compañeros, went after the agents who fired their weapons, and the agents were later rescued by other officers Friday night.


Update: Notimex reports that the Chiapas Ministry of Justice has ordered about 200 police who participated in the Chinkultic operation to present themselves for toxicology and ballistics tests and tests on their clothing and hands to see if they've recently fired guns. They will also give depositions.

Notimex also reports that of the 22 wounded, 16 of them are police. It reports one disappearance but does not specify if the disappeared person is a police officer or a peasant.

The Ministry of Justice claims that when the townspeople disarmed the police, they then poured gasoline on the police and threatened to light them on fire. It also claims some of the peasants were drunk.

While the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organzation (OCEZ) has a strong presence in the area, the peasants who took over the Chinkultic ruins and the ticket booth at the entrance to the ruins do not seem to belong to any of the numerous Chiapan indigenous peasant organizations.


About Kristin Bricker

Personal Website

Kristin Bricker is a Mexico-based Narco News correspondent. She is also part of the Rebel Imports collective, which sells fair trade textiles, coffee, and honey from Zapatista cooperatives.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Roma boy burnt alive in Sesto San Giovanni (Milan)

How much longer are we going to keep ignoring the persecution of the Roma people in Italy? How much longer will we use “caution”
Young Roma boy burnt alive in Sesto San Giovanni (Milan). The umpteenth victim of brutal racism.

Milan, 24 September, 2008.
How much longer are we going to keep ignoring the persecution of the Roma people in Italy? How much longer will we use “caution” when talking and writing about the cases of arson, fires lit by racists with the intention of killing “gypsies”, or fires caused by dangerous and unsuitable heating and lighting? How much longer are we going to avoid counting the Roma children who die every year of cold, hunger and infection in the camps and micro-settlements?

How much longer are we going to persist in believing that the women, the sick and weak “would have died anyway” and finally admit that they were killed by an Italy rife with racial hatred? How much longer will antiracists speak out so cautiously? How much longer will they allow themselves to be intimidated by the arrogance of those in power? How much longer, in deference of the authorities, will we allow the last hands held out to us for a few coins to remain empty, after choosing the path of intolerance (or “zero tolerance”, which is the same thing), and after abandoning the path of solidarity and charity? How much longer will we be afraid of calling the oppression of the Roman people the new Holocaust?

Last night in Milan, in the ex Falck steelworks of Sesto San Giovanni (Milan) Ciprian, a young Roma boy of 13 was burnt alive. He lived with his family in conditions of intolerable marginalization and poverty. His family were unable to return to Romania, where they own nothing, and were therefore prisoners of marginalization in Sesto San Giovanni. A candle fell on the makeshift bed where the boy slept and he perished in the flames. The Roma families in Sesto San Giovanni have no electricity, therefore no safe heating and lighting. They make do the best they can to avoid freezing to death. They are offered no assistance at all, just repression from the police. The firemen, who arrived at the scene after midnight, found the boy’s charred body. How much longer will we carry on considering these bodies “accidents” and not victims? How much longer will we deceive ourselves we are innocent? Roberto Malini

For further information:
Gruppo EveryOne ::

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cuba devastated by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav— Lift the Blockade Now

Cuba devastated by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav—
End the trade restrictions, Lift the Blockade Now!
Agriculture wiped out, 100,000 homes destroyed or damaged,
electrical and telephone service downed

We are writing to you today to ask you to join a massive campaign to End the Blockade of Cuba. You can join with tens of thousands of people who are taking action today.

"Now is not the time" to end the blockade, said Condoleezza Rice as the latest monster hurricane destroyed farms, homes, schools and hospitals throughout this beautiful island country of 12 million human beings. What an outrage!

Now is exactly the time to end this criminal blockade that uses food and medicine as a weapon against a people whose achievements in health care and education are legendary.

Take one minute and send an email letter telling members of US Congress, President Bush and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez that you support the immediate lifting of all restrictions on trade between Cuba and the United States.

Now is the Time We Can End the Blockade

Pinar -- Gustav
The Pinar del Río region damaged by Gustav, Photo: Granma International

Baracoa Ike
The Baracoa region damaged by Ike, Photo: Granma International

With direct and sustained blows from hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Cuba has suffered unprecedented losses in agriculture, homes, electricity and the infrastructure this week. Thanks to Cuba’s model evacuation system, there were no deaths on the island due to Hurricane Gustav and the death toll was limited to four despite the ferocious impact of Hurricane Ike. But the devastation is widespread. On Aug. 30, Gustav, a Category 4 hurricane, with record wind gusts over 200 miles per hour, pummeled the Isle of Youth and Pinar del Río province. Hurricane Gustav destroyed or damaged 100,000 homes in Cuba.

Yet, as the people were quickly mobilizing to recover and rebuild from Gustav's destruction, Hurricane Ike, also a Category 4, tore through half of Cuba on Sept. 7 and 8, again with catastrophic damage to agriculture, homes and infrastructure. On the 9th, it resumed its path through western Cuba.

In Gustav, half of the Isle of Youth was flooded. Of the 25,000 homes there, 10,000 are without roofs or totally destroyed, 10,000 more are seriously damaged. Of the 16 bakeries that sustain the population there, 14 were destroyed. In one region of Santiago alone, more than 150,000 banana trees were wiped out. Agricultural production and storage facilities are leveled throughout the island. Cuba’s agriculture cannot recover in sufficient time for the people to receive the food they need now and in the near future.

In summary, Cuba is in dire need of a massive influx of purchases and donations of food, construction and electrical materials. Massive recovery efforts are underway on the island and the population is fully engaged.

Sanctions and Blockades Kill

What Cuba needs more than anything is the lifting of the U.S. blockade, and an immediate end to the U.S. trade and travel restrictions. The 47-year-old blockade has caused more than $86 billion of damage to Cuba.

The prohibitive restrictions on trade—such as U.S. law that requires Cuba to pay cash for U.S. agricultural goods before delivery—plus the prohibition by the U.S. government of Cuban-Americans to travel more than once every three years to visit family in Cuba (and then only “direct family,” parents, siblings or children), must be lifted now.

The U.S. government must lift all restrictions on travel and trade so Cuba can recover! End the U.S. blockade NOW!

On Sept. 3, Washington's "offered" to send $100,000 of aid to Cuba, but only to U.S.-designated "non-governmental" organizations, along with an assessment team whose only intention is intelligence-gathering. This piifully small amount with strings attached is an insult. The Cuban people need real solidarity and humanitarian assistance, which many people in the United States, especially Cuban-American families, want to extend.

But U.S. laws and White House edicts continue to punish the Cuban people and their families in Florida. The U.S. policy of blockade, including the "Trading with the Enemy" Act, the Torricelli Law (1992) and the Helms-Burton Law (1996), are in direct violation of international law. Since 1992, every UN General Assembly session has voted overwhelmingly against the U.S. blockade. In 2007, the vote was 183 to 4.

Take Action: Join the Campaign of Humanitarian Aid
and to End the Blockade!

Cuba has never failed to extend its solidarity to people all over the world. Whether it is the 700 Cuban medical personnel in Haiti, the thousands of doctors in Venezuela, the immediate offer to send 1,100 medical doctors with emergency equipment to New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina (an offer rejected by Bush), or sending those same doctors to the Himalayas of Pakistan after 86,000 people died in the earthquake in 2006, Cuba and its people have extended concrete solidarity to others in need, time and again.

It is our turn to extend our solidarity to the people of Cuba.

Take one minute and send an email letter telling members of Congress, President Bush and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez that you support the immediate lifting of all restrictions on trade between Cuba and the United States.
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

Sierra Leonean Refugees in Germany Question APC Government's Invovlement In "Coordinated Deportation Order"

Is it a refugee trade or recommencement of the globally abolished slave trade?

Dear Editor,

Please allow me a chance to express through your credible news medium, the plight of Sierra Leonean refugees who are currently languishing in isolated asylum camps in the Federal Republic of Germany, some whom had been rejected papers for more than 10 years ago.

When President Ernest Bai Koroma emerged victorious in the last presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leonean, most Sierra Leonean refugees in Germany including myself burst into joy in anticipation of the positive changes that he preached during the political campaign under the symbol of what we always viewed as a brand new, different APC. Our expectations even rose beyond sky limit when he started inviting his compatriots in the diasporas to go back home and help rebuild the nation in spirit of patriotism and national unity.

Our expectations however, has recently diminished to the lowest degree as we realised that the current APC government is not only attacking journalists, awarding unethical electricity contracts, signing questionable deals in favour of Lebanese merchants, but the department of Foreign Affairs and International Relations in collaboration with the Immigration Headquarters in Freetown, are currently working hands in gloves with the European governments to carry out what they call “coordinated deportation exercise “ which will target all Sierra Leonean refugees in the region.

President Koroma’s government is believed to have signed a deal with the European states, particularly the Federal Republic of Germany, to exchange Travellers Certificates (TC) with economic aid since most refugees in the country arrived without passport. A verification team including officials from Foreign Affairs and Immigration departments in Freetown are due in Germany on the 15th this month to help the German government identify Sierra Leonean citizens to be deported.

An official letter signed by the head of Foreign Office (Ausländerbehorde) has been circulated to all Sierra Leonean refugees in the country (including myself) to report to the nearest police station on a specific date between 15th and 30 September 2008. The Sierra Leonean government, according to credible source, has also agreed to issue TC to all other West African citizens who had seek asylum in Germany over the years using Sierra Leone. A sudden shock is going down our spines to learn that APC can accept such an unpatriotic deal after the then SLPP regime had exclusively rejected it over the years.

The Sierra Leonean Embassy in Bonn, Germany, has confirmed that indeed such development is in progress but they were never informed by neither the home Government nor the German government.

In May last year, similar exercise threw into quagmire thousands of poor families in Togo, Guinea and Nigeria as they unexpectedly received hundreds of their relatives after their governments had issued Travellers Certificates to the European states in exchange of financial support for their corrupt administrations.

It is now clear that the APC’s habit of saying YES to whatever idea rejected by sober minded governments (example Zainab Banguras’ YES to Chaina against Tibet, Serry Kamal’s YES to Wanza, and President Koroma’s YES to the current deportation scheme) has decreased their popularity among the Sierra Leonean community in Germany to infinitesimal

It’s note worthy that the Universal Declaration of human-right which took place decades ago in Geneva prohibited the sale, exchange or replacement of human being with cash, object, chance, or idea of any type. It’s in view of the above that we the Sierra Leonean refugees in Germany are requesting an answer from both the German and Sierra Leone governments: Is this scheme a refugee trade or recommencement of the globally abolished slave trade?

By Bassy Kamara

Secretary General

United Sierra Leoneans in Hamburg

Protest gegen Abschiebeanhörungen in Hamburg-Wandsbek

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Landowners Attack Venezuelan Indigenous Clamoring for Land Rights in Zulia

Venezuelan Government Accelerates Yukpa Land Demarcation but Tension Remains

August 18th 2008
, by James Suggett -
Cacique Sabino Romero, leader of the occupations of 14 landed estates, victim of repeated assassination attempts by landowners (
Cacique Sabino Romero, leader of the occupations of 14 landed estates, victim of repeated assassination attempts by landowners (
Mérida, August 17, 2008 (—A Venezuelan indigenous community belonging to the Yukpa ethnic group, which is demanding legal title to its ancestral lands, was attacked last week by hundreds of armed aggressors. According to the Yukpa, the aggressors were hired by elite landowners to evict the indigenous population from the vast, largely idle pastures in the region known as the Sierra de Perijá near Venezuela’s northwestern border with Colombia.

The attacks were the latest and largest in a string of attempts to intimidate and terrorize a Yukpa community since they intensified their land recuperation efforts efforts over the past year by occupying 14 privately owned estates known as Haciendas.

Last month, prominent estate owner Alejandro Vargas and four others, armed with handguns and machetes, attempted to assassinate the Yukpa cacique (chief) who is leading the occupations, Sabino Romero, and in the process killed Romero’s elderly father.

“They arrived quietly and hit me over the neck with their guns and hit me in the back. They grabbed me by the hair and dragged me and asked for Sabino, yelling dirty words and saying they are going to kill me,” testified Guillermina Romero, Sabino’s daughter, to alternative media groups who were the only journalists who visited the scene.

According to the Venezuelan constitution, ratified by popular vote in 1999, and an Indigenous Peoples Law passed in 2005, the government has the obligation to grant indigenous communities legal title to their ancestral lands.

However, government figures show that out of 67 cases that have been opened by the federal Land Demarcation Commission, 59 remain stalled. Yukpa leaders say the government quietly placed the controversial land demarcation initiative on the political back burner last year, presumably in order to minimize conflict in the runup to this November’s regional and local elections.

In addition, land demarcation officials demand geographical and agricultural information that can only be obtained with the cooperation of the powerful and violent hacienda owners. Thus, Yukpa leaders say they have no choice but to trespass on the lands that were stolen from their grandparents over the course of the 20th Century.

As tension mounts, the government led by President Hugo Chávez faces the decision of whether to expel the Yukpa in defense of private property in this semi-fuedal zone or comply with its own land titling initiative by giving collective land titles to the Yukpa, compensating the current owners, and protecting the Yukpa from mercenary attacks.

The National Guard, which did not respond to any of the recent mercenary attacks, has now mounted batallions within a kilometer of the occupying Yukpa community and awaits orders from the state. National Intelligence officials also arrived last Monday, according to alternative media sources at the scene.

According to Guillermina Romero, after Alejandro Vargas shot through the small door of a Yukpa home where he thought Cacique Sabino was hiding in July, he told the Yukpa that pleading to the National Guard or local government will do no good because “I pay all of them.”

Anonymous National Guard officials told independent journalists Monday that the troops expected to receive orders to clear the indigenous communities from the haciendas Tuesday.

The same day, María de Los Angeles Peña, a director of the federal student loan program Fundayacucho and long-time ally of the indigenous struggle, gave a rousing speech in the National Assembly in support of the Yukpa. A simultaneous blitz of well-coordinated alternative media reports throughout the week brought national attention to the issue, and the Yukpa have not been evicted.

The Chavez government has yet to indicate a clear stance on this particular struggle. Last Monday, Chávez declared to an Indo-American Youth Conference in Caracas that “in this historic moment… the indigenous should continue being part of the vanguard.”

“There will be no socialism in these lands of America if we do not incorporate the most profound tradition, cultures, lifestyles, and communitarian modes of production of the aborigines,” proclaimed Chávez.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Nicia Maldonado, denied that there were hundreds of mercenaries who attacked the Yukpa, and said it was really a group of 50 mercenaries. Maldonado reiterated the government’s “intention” to “return the lands which historically correspond to indigenous peoples,” and pledged to visit the lands in dispute to “clarify” the situation.

The minister was accompanied by five Yukpa caciques who oppose the land occupations led by Cacique Romero. They denounced Romero for deviating from “the legal path,” and said Romero’s ecologist allies from the city, who have participated in the occupations, are “the most responsible for the events that have occurred.”

“We live in peace and harmony… It is not our custom to invade,” said Cacique María Teresa Yasphe. “We want to resolve this in peace… respecting the White Man’s law, sitting down with caciques, functionaries, estate owners, and the minister to dialogue.”

Several such meetings have already taken place in Yukpa lands since 2005. In October of that year, an hacienda owner was filmed making what many Yukpa see as another broken promise to “define the indigenous territories so we are all in agreement.”

The caciques allied with Minister Maldonado praised the national government for bringing popular social programs known as “Missions” to the Yukpa, promoting literacy, and bringing modern health care to their communities. Romero, however, envisions a more autonomous path of development protagonized by the Yukpa themselves, and does not agree that the Yukpa have invaded or broken the law.

“The landowners have taken control of lands which by law pertain to us,” said Romero. While the landowners continue deforesting the region to make pastures for their cattle, “we are rescuing crops, cacao, corn, sugar cane, avocado and coffee,” he asserted.

The National Cattle Ranchers Federation (FEDENAGA) defended the elite hacienda owners last week by calling the conflict with the Yukpa a “national emergency.”

Aiming for a weak spot of the Chávez administration, which has struggled to combat food shortages and price inflation over the past year, FEDENAGA officials reported that milk production has been reduced by 5,000 liters per day as a result of the occupations.

Regional and local authorities from both opposition and pro-government camps who support the expansion of coal mining in the delicate watershed region have consistently opposed the empowerment of Yukpa, Barí, and Wayúu indigenous communities in the area.

The Yukpa, precariously trespassing on their own lands, have expressed fear that if they are evicted, they will never be allowed to return. As they rely on Venezuelan alternative media for support, it is now the government’s turn to act.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Nigerian Embassy: Slave Trade in Germany

Nigerian Embassy: Slave Trade in Germany

A Video statement by Clarke Itama,

Nigerian citizen living in Germany

Press release

Immigrants and refugees from Nigeria and other African countries living in Germany are suffering massive deportation. They are continuously denied the chance for asylum or regular stay as the German authorities enforce efforts to expel them by force. The Nigerian embassy in Germany is playing a crucial role for this policy: It is actively supporting the deportation of Nigerian citizens and other Africans by carrying out so-called “identification hearings” for issuing traveling documents (TCs) for deportations. The next of such deportation hearing is planned to take place from 16th till 18th of September in Dortmund/Federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen.

Mr. Olushola Adeagbo, spokesman of the Human Rights organisation “Caravan for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants“, strongly condemns the Nigerian embassy’s support for deportations: “It seems as if the Nigerian embassy has become a central agency for the deportation of African migrants and refugees!

  • It is one of the most shocking treatments of refugees in Germany that the embassies of African countries are collaborating in this desecration of fundamental human rights. The most prominent of these collaborators is the Nigerian embassy in Germany.
  • The aim of the German authourity is clear: Accelerating massive deportation of Nigerians and other Africans from Liberia, Togo, Sudan who are forced to attend hearings with the main aim to deport them to Nigeria.
  • The deportation service for the German authorities is a profitable business for the Nigerian embassy as they receive 250 Euro for every interview and 250 Euro more for each Travel Certificate (TC) issued.
  • Refugees and Migrants are forced to attend “Identification Hearings” against their will through various repressive means including imprisonment, by the local German authorities.

It has come to the extent that deportation hearings with the Nigerian embassy is taking place every month, each time in a different region or city of Germany: The Nigerian embassy officials were in Halberstadt in January 2008, in February they were in Dortmund, March in Ludwigsburg, April in Leipzig, June in Munich and in July they were in Karlsruhe. The latest Nigerian embassy hearing took place from 12th till 14th of August once again in Halberstadt/Sachsen Anhalt. Most of the victims were forcefully conveyed to the venue by the police. Some of them reported that they were brought to the Nigerian embassy officials in handcuffs.

Mr. Olushola Adeagbo states about the upcoming Nigerian embassy hearing from 16th till 18th of September in Dortmund as follows: “Based on the previous experiences with Nigerian embassy hearings, we expect that once again, African Refugees and Migrants will be facing massive violations of their personal freedom.

Meanwhile, activists of the Nigerian-African community in Germany, together with German anti-racist activists, have started organising complaint and protest against the Nigerian embassy’s deportation policy. A meeting of Nigerian community activists with the Nigerian ambassador Mr. Abdul-Kadir Bin Rimdap has been scheduled for 14th of September 2008. “We want to make clear to His Excellency that our embassy must own up to its real responsibility for the welfare of its citizens residing abroad rather than collaborating in the deportation abuse and otherwise,” says Mr. Rex Osa, spokesman for the Nigerian-African Community Forum.

The Caravan for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants is happy to answer further questions.

Our contact address: Karawane, c/o EineWeltHaus, Schwanthalerstr. 80, 80336 München, Germany, Europa
e-mail: nigeria-anti-deportation [at]

For more detailed information, see our internet feature:

Links to stories of interest

Images from the deportation hearing in Halberstadt

  • Nigerians delievered by the police