As protests end, what have the Red Shirts achieved?

From Flickr user ratchaprasong

Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai academic, socialist, and dissident currently wanted for lèse majesté shares this analysis of the Red Shirt movement as they prepare to conclude their Bangkok protests.

Red Shirt protests in Bangkok, which started in mid-March are about to be wound up. The leaders have accepted a compromise with the military-backed Abhisit government. Elections will not be held immediately, but on 14th November. Earlier Abihist had indicated an election in February 2011 at the earliest.

It is unclear whether the blanket censorship will be lifted. One clear demand that the Red Shirt leaders are expecting is that the Red Shirt TV channel (People Channel TV) will be allowed back on air. It is unclear whether websites like Prachatai will be unblocked. Another demand is that the law be applied equally to all. The Government claims that tomorrow the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister will “surrender” to the police regarding charges of murdering citizens back on 10th April. But it is unclear whether any real charges will be filed against them.

Nothing has been said about the political prisoners, both those in jail for lese majeste and those in jail for blocking roads during the recent protest.

What have the Red Shirts achieved?

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 04-06.05.2010

All across the protesting villages of the West Bank, the political intimidation is escalating with arrests of activists. There will be no footage from Bil’in, this week, as friend, fellow activist, B’tselem camera man and Bil’in resident, Haitham Al-Khatib was arested, yet again, while doing his job. (update 20.5.10: this week’s footage has been recovered and can be found here) Along with two fellow Bil’in residents, Al-Khatib was taken to Ofer prison, without even so much as an interrogation. The two Israeli activists and international activist were released at 20 past midnight, that night.

In Ni’lin, a bit of symbolic flag burning was quickly dispersed with chemical weapons.

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Hey, Elton!

Great video medley from filmmaker John Greyson, who writes: “Palestinian civil society has called on Elton John to respect its boycott call and cancel his June 17th concert in Tel Aviv. If he does so, he’ll be joining Santana and Gil-Scott Heron, who recently canceled their spring concerts in Israel. This video suggests six reasons why Elton should join the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement.”


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How the Israel Lobby undermines US economy

PULSE columnist and IRMEP director Grant F. Smith on Press TV’s Autograph with Susan Modaress. Grant’s latest book is Spy Trade: how Israel’s lobby undermines America’s economy.

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Chávez Takes on Little Red Riding Hood

Colombian presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos.

By Ken Kelley

I was surprised during my trip to Colombia last month when my seemingly enlightened Bogotá cab driver, who had been telling me about his support for Green Party presidential candidate Antanas Mockus in the upcoming elections, suddenly shifted gears and announced that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was loco.

The mental state of its leader was not the only issue the driver had with the neighboring country, and he added that money for Venezuela’s social programs came not from oil wealth but rather from proceeds Chávez received as part of an international drug smuggling ring.  Among the co-conspirators in the ring, I learned, was ex-President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, ousted in a coup last summer which according to the cabbie had been justified based on the fact that Zelaya was also loco.

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Jerusalem Day

by Ruth Tenne

Jerusalem Day was declared a national  holiday by the State of Israel on the 12th May 1968 in celebration of  the “liberation” of East Jerusalem and the  unification of the city in the aftermath of the 1967  Six-Day War. The medieval Maghrabi Quarter near the Jewish Wailing  Wall was demolished soon after, and its Palestinian  inhabitants were evicted in order to make way for an open space  for Jewish worshipers  [1]. To celebrate this occasion the victorious hymn  “Jerusalem of Gold” was written in glorification of the annexation of East Jerusalem and the reclaiming of the Western Wailing Wall .

In 1980 the Israeli Knesset passed the Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, confirming Jerusalem’s status as the nation’s “eternal and indivisible capital”.  UN Security Council Resolution 478 stated thereafter that the Jerusalem Law was “null and void and must be rescinded forthwith”. [2].   The Resolution instructed UN member-states to withdraw their diplomatic representation from the city – refusing to confer official status on Israel’s illegal act of annexation.

The UN position, however, did not deter Israel from its continued attempts to cleanse East Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants by the use of force and military orders.  The so-called “City of Gold”  turned into a ghettoised place with  rubble from demolished Palestinian houses, razed Palestinian neighbourhoods , desecrated Muslim graveyards, and  dispossessed homeless  families serving as testimony to Israel’s  underlying  aim of  “purifying”  the city of  its indigenous Palestinian population. According to the Head  of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – Jeff Halper –  only 11 percent of East Jerusalem land is available for Palestinian housing as result of Israel’s discriminatory policies which means  that  Jerusalemite Palestinians are virtually barred from 93 percent of the  municipality of  Jerusalem. The overall goal is to confine Palestinians to small enclaves in East Jerusalem, or to remove them from the city altogether – an action referred to by Israel as the “quiet transfer”.

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Boycott Israel? Amitav Ghosh & the Dan David Prize

The call for academic and cultural boycott is clearly a way to encourage civil society to play a broader political role—that is why it has the support of wide sections of Palestinian civil society. One of the most significant questions that call poses to us is simply this: How could those of us who oppose apartheid, occupation, and colonialism not support such a call?

Dear Amitav Ghosh,

We wish to express our deep disappointment in your decision to accept the Dan David prize, administered by Tel Aviv University and to be awarded by the President of Israel. As a writer whose work has dwelled consistently on histories of colonialism and displacement, your refusal to take stance on the colonial question in the case of Israel and the occupation of Palestine has provoked deep dismay, frustration, and puzzlement among readers and fans of your work around the world. Many admired your principled stand, and respected your decision not to accept the Commonwealth Writers Prize in rejection of the colonialist framework it represented.

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More Constitutional Buffoonery…

Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights speaks candidly about the latest bad joke from Senator Joe Lieberman and Republican Scott Brown, who have co-sponsored a new bill, the Terrorist Ex-Patriation Act,  which seeks to strip Americans charged with terrorism of their U.S. citizenship.

According to Lieberman, the new bill simply ‘updates’ an existing statute that has been “on the books for seventy years”. As Lieberman sees it, “If the President can  authorize the killing of a United States citizen because he is fighting for a foreign terrorist organization…..we can also have a law that allows the U.S. government to revoke a locked-in citizenship.”

Can Obama make “peace” in the Middle East

Our dear friend Phil Weiss makes the most impressive interventions in this debate. He is also the first we have seen who knows how to handle Tim Sebastien well.

Doha Debates takes on the potential for a US brokered deal in the Middle East.

“Fair Trade Wants You!” The Neoliberal Politics of Conscious Consumption

By Kara Newhouse

“Fair trade is a hand up, not a handout.” I heard this distinction between charity and an economic exchange many times while doing anthropology research among fair trade advocates. With today marking World Fair Trade Day, it’s a good time to examine what fair trade is, and what it isn’t.

The Premise

The premise of “fair trade” is to create markets in the Global North for goods from the Global South, either through businesses that sell directly from the producers (usually handicrafts) or through third party commodity labeling.

Often when people hear about my research on this phenomenon, they ask, “So is it really fair?” This question assumes that “good/bad” labels can be accurately deployed to understand the world’s problems and remedies. The justness of fair trade on the production end of the exchange should be evaluated based on many factors, including the producers’ involvement in shaping what is considered “fair” trade. Other researchers are attempting such evaluations, and the results differ by region and product. Beyond assessing the “fairness” of this consumer movement, I am interested in the roots of fair trade’s appeal to people of the Global North. To understand that, I analyzed the marketing of fair trade goods and interviewed fair trade advocates.

Continue reading ““Fair Trade Wants You!” The Neoliberal Politics of Conscious Consumption”

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