Solidarity is not a Crime: Statement from the Minnesota Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria (Minnesota CISPOS)

As members of an organization committed to peace and justice, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria (CISPOS), it was disheartening for us to see an article in Huffington Post that falsely alleges that we are working “in sync with neocon warhawks to produce and sustain a perpetual state of U.S. war.” Coleen Rowley and Margaret Sarfehjooy’s article “Selling ‘Peace Groups’ on US-Led Wars” does not provide insightful analysis and is constructed on unfounded claims.

The article is fallout from the widespread controversy in the peace movement over how to respond to the brutal war in Syria.

Many anti-war pundits and activists have bought into U.S. propaganda that the U.S. is actively supporting the Syrian rebels to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. They point to the 1997 Project for a New American Century plan for regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. They believed Hillary Clinton in 2012 when she said the Assad regime must go and that the international community stands with the Syrian people.  In fact…the U.S. has given very little training, small weapons, and funds to very few rebel groups.  Congress recently dropped $300 million for the Syrian rebels from the defense bill, almost completely cutting what the Syrian opposition already saw as paltry support from the U.S.  On the other hand, the CIA has long had a working relationship with Assad, sending him numerous terrorist suspects to torture as part of their rendition program. Assad has provided Israel with a secure border.

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Kharotabad killings and the cover up

In an in-depth investigation, Mehreen Zahra-Malik reveals the sordid details behind the May 17th murder of five Russian/Tajik civilians by Pakistani security forces near Kharotabad in Baluchistan. This article first appeared on Al Jazeera.

One wounded woman makes an appeal for surrender moments before her body is riddled with more bullets.

Jamal Tarakai had barely sat down to a late lunch on May 17 when he heard gunshots. Leaving his food untouched, he jumped on his motorbike and drove towards the source of the noise. About 200 metres from his home in Kharotabad on the outskirts of the capital of Balochistan, Quetta, was a Frontier Corps (FC) check post. As Tarakai pulled up on the chowk, he saw at least five FC guards shooting into a pile of sandbags, the firing so intense it created a whirlwind of dust, making it difficult for the cameraman to see who, or what, was being shot at so fiercely.

Pulling out his camera, the journalist started filming the scene. At some point, there was a pause in the firing. The dust settled, somewhat, and the lower portion of a woman in a red shalwar-kameez could be seen lying on the ground. She slowly raised an arm and waved it in the air, fingers stretched out – to signal surrender? To seek mercy? The outstretched hand prompted two of the men in fatigues to start firing again, until it was certain anything living on the receiving end was now almost certainly dead.

TV channels immediately began to pump out congratulatory stories, cheering the FC guards for a job well done. Five alleged Chechen suicide bombers, including three women, had been killed in an encounter with security forces, it was reported. The Balochistan Home secretary quickly issued a statement saying the suspects were wearing suicide vests and had hurled hand grenades at the FC, killing one FC guard, Naik Mohommad Sajjad. The Capital City Police Officer, Daud Junejo, said the five foreigners were Chechen militants linked with Al Qaeda; that they had been planning to carry out attacks in Quetta; and that the women had showed the officers suicide vests and threatened to blow themselves up.

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Why isn’t the Salvadoran election top news on CNN?

The FMLN have won a historic election in El Salvador. Yet the news is being downplayed in the US media. In the following guest post my friend Jairo Lugo, who teaches Film and Journalism at the Stirling University and who previously worked as a journalist in Latin America, explains the possible causes. (Also check out this report about the call by some congressmen for an end to US interference in Salvadoran politics, and this one about the threats to Salvadorans working in the US by some Republicans should they vote the wrong way).

Update: Check out Democracy Now’s excellent coverage of the election.

No one familiar with Latin American politics can ignore the significance of El Salvador. For years it was at the center of the struggles of the Cold War. At a certain time it received nearly 1 million US dollars a day in military support. Dozens of films and thousands of pages were devoted to this struggle. Since the Viet Nam debacle, El Salvador became the hottest focus of US foreign policy.

It was in El Salvador where ‘the advance of communism had to be stopped’, the US government claimed. US created and funded death squads killed hundreds of people and disappear many more. All was done in the name of preserving the continent from the claws of communism.

Because of this it was odd not to find a single mention of yesterday’s election results in the top stories of CNN. Besides the long-term US foreign policy interest, the history of death squads and the billions of dollar in military assistance, there is also the issue of the thousands of refugees from El Salvador who ended up living in the US. The story should therefore be of much interests, even if the wrong people have won the elections.

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